Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth will take over the DHL Stormers captaincy from Siya Kolisi when the Capetonians clash with the unbeaten Crusaders in a very important Vodacom Super Rugby fixture in Christchurch on Saturday.
The match in Christchurch, where the DHL Stormers have never won, is the first of three tour matches in New Zealand for Robbie Fleck’s team and Saturday’s big match starts at 09h25 (SA time).
The Southern Kings conclude their three game tour of Australia on Friday morning against the Waratahs in Sydney. Later on Friday evening the Emirates Lions host the Jaguares in Johannesburg, where the action gets underway at 19h00.
The remaining three South African teams are all in action on Saturday evening. Loftus Versfeld hosts the derby between Vodacom Bulls and the Toyota Cheetahs (17h15), while the Cell C Sharks and the Melbourne Rebels will conclude the day’s schedule in Durban (19h30).
In another change to the DHL Stormers team, Pieter-Steph du Toit will switch from lock to blindside flank, where the Springbok fills the place of Kolisi, who is getting a break. Chris van Zyl comes in to partner Etzebeth while Cobus Wiese provides loose forward cover. A rotational switch at tighthead prop sees Wilco Louw back in the starting line-up in place of Frans Malherbe (bench).
As a result of the injury to SP Marais, the versatile Dillyn Leyds moves from wing to fullback with Bjorn Basson now on the left wing. Dewaldt Duvenage returns at scrumhalf after being rested last week and that means a move to the bench for Jano Vermaak.
The Crusaders is the last remaining unbeaten team in the competition following the DHL Stormers’ loss to the Emirates Lions last weekend in Cape Town. The Crusaders have never lost at home to the visitors, who came close in their last visit to the South Island when the Kiwis won 14-13 three years ago.
Southern Kings coach Deon Davids made four changes and a positional switch for their final Aussie tour encounter, against the Waratahs in Sydney. The Eastern Cape side played attractive rugby during their losses to the Reds and the Force and they will aim for improvement in Sydney.
Winger Yaw Penxe returned home with concussion from last week’s battle with the Force, which sees Wandile Mjekevu getting his first start of the season at right wing. Up front, Andisa Ntsila starts at No 8, lock Irne Herbst is recalled while tighthead prop Ross Geldenhuys has shrugged of his neck spasm. Justin Forwood moves from tighthead to the other side of the scrum.
The Waratahs have won six of their last seven matches at home against SA opposition, however, the Kings showed against the Force and Reds that they have dangerous attacking skills.
After beating the DHL Stormers so impressively in Cape Town Last weekend, Emirates Lions coach Johan Ackermann has named a new front row consisting of Johannes Jonker, Akker van der Merwe and Corne Fourie for their Friday evening clash with the Jaguares. Strong inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg is out with a serious knee injury and Harold Vorster fills the midfield vacancy. Meanwhile, fullback Andries Coetzee will earn his 50th tournament appearance.
This will be the fourth meeting between the sides from Johannesburg and Buenos Aires, with the Jozi outfit victorious only once, in their last match in Johannesburg last year. In fact, they have won their previous nine games in a row at home, each time scoring at least 34 points, so another high scoring affair is on the cards.
The Vodacom Bulls were dealt a late blow when it emerged that Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard has been ruled out of action for 8-10 weeks with an ankle injury. His place in the team goes to Tian Schoeman, with Francois Brummer on the bench.
Jacobie Adriaanse will make his first start of the season for the Vodacom Bulls, playing as tighthead prop in place of the rested Trevor Nyakane when they entertain the Toyota Cheetahs in a crucial local derby in Pretoria.
Jason Jenkins will start at lock and swaps places with RG Snyman, while there is an enforced change amongst the backs, because of the resting of Springbok centre Jan Serfontein, which means Jesse Kriel moves into the midfield and Warrick Gelant slotting in at fullback.
Meanwhile, Toyota Cheetahs coach Franco Smith made two changes to his starting selection that lost 41-27 to the Chiefs in Bloemfontein last weekend. Charles Marais comes into the starting line-up as loosehead prop with Ox Nche on the bench. William Small-Smith will don the No 14 jersey in place of Sergeal Petersen, who is battling a hamstring injury.
The Toyota Cheetahs face a stiff challenge in Pretoria though, as they have only won there once in their eight previous visits.
Young Cell C Sharks flanker Jean-Luc du Preez has been ruled out of their match against the Rebels in Durban, which is the final match of the weekend. He has an ankle niggle and Philip van der Walt starts in his place on the side of the scrum. Another youngster, Curwin Bosch, returns to flyhalf after standing in at fullback in the previous match, with Rhyno Smith taking over the No 15 jersey.
The men from Durban ended on the winning side in all four previous encounters against the Rebels, while the men from the East Coast are also chasing an eighth consecutive home win.
The Blues and the Reds are the two teams enjoying a by this coming weekend.
Waratahs v Southern Kings
Waratahs: 15. Israel Folau, 14. Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13. Rob Horne, 12. David Horwitz, 11. Cam Clark, 10. Bernard Foley, 9. Jake Gordon, 8. Michael Wells, 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Ned Hanigan, 5. Will Skelton, 4. David McDuling, 3. Tom Robertson, 2. Tolu Latu, 1. Paddy Ryan. Replacements: 16. Hugh Roach, 17. Angus Ta’avao, 18. David Lolohea, 19. Dean Mumm, 20. Jed Holloway, 21. Nick Phipps, 22. Bryce Hegarty, 23. Harry Jones.
Southern Kings: 15. Masixole Banda, 14. Wandile Mjekevu, 13. Berton Klaasen, 12. Luzuko Vulindlu, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 10. Lionel Cronje (captain), 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Andisa Ntsila, 7. Tyler Paul, 6. Chris Cloete, 5. Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4. Irne Herbst, 3. Ross Geldenhuys, 2. Michael Willemse, 1. Justin Forwood. Replacements: 16. Kurt Haupt, 17. Schalk van der Merwe, 18. Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19. Mzwanele Zito, 20. Ruaan Lerm/Martin Bezuidenhout, 21. Johan Steyn, 22. Stokkies Hanekom, 23. Pieter-Steyn de Wet.
Date: Friday, 21 April
SA Time: 11h45
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Referee: Rohan Hoffman
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, James Leckie
Television match official: Ian Smith
Prediction: Waratahs by 12.
Emirates Lions v Jaguares
Emirates Lions: 15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Madosh Tambwe, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 12. Harold Vorster, 11. Courtnall Skosan, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Warren Whiteley (captain), 7. Ruan Ackermann, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Franco Mostert, 4. Andries Fourie, 3. Johannes Jonker, 2. Akker van der Merwe, 1. Corne Fourie. Replacements: 16. Malcolm Marx, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. Ruan Dreyer, 19. Lourens Erasmus, 20. Kwagga Smith, 21. Faf de Klerk, 22. Jacques Nel, 23. Sylvian Mahuza.
Jaguares: 15. Ramiro Moyano, 14. Santiago Cordero, 13. Matias Orlando, 12. Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11. Bautista Ezcurra, 10. Nicolas Sanchez, 9. Felipe Ezcurra, 8. Benjamin Macome, 7. Rodrigo Baez, 6. Tomas Lezana, 5. Marcos Kremer, 4. Guido Petti, 3. Ramiro Herrera, 2. Agustin Creevy (captain), 1. Lucas Noguera Paz. Replacements: 16 Roberto Tejerizo, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Ignacio Larrague, 20 Pablo Matera, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 23 Emiliano Boffelli
Date: Friday, 21 April
SA Time: 19h00
Venue: Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe, AJ Jacobs
Television match official: Willie Vos
Prediction: Emirates Lions by 10.
Crusaders v DHL Stormers
Crusaders: 15. David Havili, 14. Seta Tamanivalu, 13. Jack Goodhue, 12. Ryan Crotty, 11. George Bridge, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 9. Mitchell Drummond, 8. Kieran Read, 7. Matt Todd, 6. Jordan Taufua, 5. Sam Whitelock (captain), 4. Scott Barrett, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Codie Taylor, 1. Joe Moody. Replacements: 16. Ben Funnell, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Michael Alaalatoa, 19. Luke Romano, 20. Pete Samu, 21. Bryn Hall, 22. Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele.
DHL Stormers: 15. Dillyn Leyds, 14. Cheslin Kolbe, 13. EW Viljoen, 12. Dan du Plessis, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6. Nizaam Carr, 5. Chris van Zyl, 4. Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3. Wilco Louw, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg. Replacements: 16. Ramone Samuels, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Frans Malherbe, 19. Jan de Klerk, 20. Cobus Wiese, 21. Jano Vermaak, 22. Kurt Coleman, 23. Dan Kriel.
Date: Saturday, 22 April
SA Time: 09h35
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant referees: Nick Briant, James Doleman
Television match official: Aaron Paterson
Prediction: Crusaders by six.
Vodacom Bulls v Toyota Cheetahs
Vodacom Bulls: 15. Warrick Gelant, 14. Travis Ismaiel, 13. Jesse Kriel, 12. Burger Odendaal, 11. Jamba Ulengo, 10. Tian Schoeman, 9. Piet van Zyl, 8. Hanro Liebenberg, 7. Jannes Kirsten, 6. Nick de Jager, 5. Lood de Jager, 4. Jason Jenkins, 3. Jacobie Adriaanse, 2. Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1. Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: 16. Jaco Visagie, 17. Lizo Gqoboka, 18. Martin Dreyer, 19. RG Snyman, 20. Marnus Schoeman/Jacques Potgieter, 21. Rudy Paige, 22. Francois Brummer, 23. Franco Naude.
Toyota Cheetahs: 15. Clayton Blommetjies, 14. William Small-Smith, 13. Francois Venter (captain), 12. Nico Lee, 11. Raymond Rhule, 10. Niel Marais, 9. Shaun Venter, 8. Henco Venter, 7. Oupa Mohoje, 6. Paul Schoeman, 5. Carl Wegner, 4. Armandt Koster, 3. Johan Coetzee, 2. Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1. Charles Marais. Replacements: 16. Elandre Huggett, 17. Ox Nche, 18. Tom Botha, 19. Francois Uys, 20. Niell Jordaan, 21. Uzair Cassiem, 22. Tian Meyer, 23. Fred Zeilinga.
Date: Saturday, 22 April
SA Time: 17h15
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, AJ Jacobs
Television match official: Willie Vos
Prediction: Vodacom Bulls by seven.
Cell C Sharks v Melbourne Rebels
Cell Sharks: 15. Rhyno Smith, 14. Kobus van Wyk, 13. Lukhanyo Am, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Curwin Bosch, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Daniel du Preez, 7. Philip van der Walt, 6. Tera Mtembu (captain), 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Coenie Oosthuizen, 2. Franco Marais, 1. Beast Mtawarira. Replacements: 16. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17. Thomas du Toit, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Ruan Botha, 20. Jacques Vermeulen, 21. Michael Claassens, 22. Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23. Jeremy Ward.
Melbourne Rebels: TBA
Date: Saturday, 22 April
SA Time: 19h30
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds, Stuart Berry
Television match official: Marius Jonker
Prediction: Cell C Sharks by more than 15.
Other Round 9 fixtures:
Friday, 21 April
09h35 Hurricanes v Brumbies (Napier)
Saturday, 22 April
07h15 Highlanders v Sunwolves (Invercargill)
13h55 Western Force v Chiefs (Perth)
Byes: Blues, Reds