Super 14 - Round 8 Preview
Game of the Week: Waratahs v Stormers
April 2, 2009
Wycliffe Palu wins his 50th cap for the Waratahs this weekend © Getty Images
In our featured Super 14 game of the weekend the second-place Waratahs host the Stormers in Sydney on Saturday.
The Waratahs are coming off a tight 27-22 win over the Blues in Auckland last week and retain the same match 22 for the visit of the Cape Town-based team while the Stormers suffered an equally narrow defeat 11-7 at the hands of the Crusaders last week.
"Just because you win doesn't mean you don't look at areas you might want to change up a bit, but we felt sticking with the same starting XV and bench was the way to approach this week," said Waratahs head coach Chris Hickey. "Last week we had quite a few worries hanging over the team," said Hickey. "Phil Waugh had his lower leg problem, Dan Palmer had a virus and Kurtley came down with tonsillitis.
"All of those blokes have come through into this week pretty well and will enter the match against the Blues physically stronger than they were last week."
There is a doubt over Luke Burgess and Rob Horne but Hickey is confident they'll be fit to play on Saturday.
"Luke will probably run for the first time on Thursday, and we've kept Rob away from the rest of the team with his cold. We're confident both will be ready to play on Saturday."
Waratah's No.8 Wycliff Palu earns his 50th Super Rugby for the Waratahs.
The much-hyped Stormers outfit have yet again failed to fire after they were tipped for the play-offs at the start of the season. They come off the back of a 11-7 loss to the Crusaders last week that has heaped the pressure on their coach Rassie Erasmus.
In a backline reshuffle Erasmus has brought back Peter Grant at flyhalf in place of Willem De Waal who has started the last two games for the Stormers but failed to spark a potentially dangerous backline.
He's also opted to completely leave out Percy Montgomery from his match-day 22 which sees the return of Springbok fullback Conrad Jantjes. Wylie Human slots into the side at wing in the place of Gcobani Bobo who shifts to outside centre. It had been thought that in a must-win game for the Stormers that accommodating both Montgomery and Jantjes was a necessity in the starting-lineup but Erasmus said that a fit Jantjes is South Africa's premier fullback.
"He battled with injuries but is 100% fit now," he said. "It is only fair that we give a guy like him a chance now. Connie did excellently last year for us at fullback and he is fit and this is his chance. Percy did a great job thus far and he understands his role on and off the field."
Wylie Human has featured for the Western Province in the Vodacom Cup competition and for Erasmus was the logical replacement following injuries to wings Nick Koster and Tonderai Chavangha.
"He is an experienced guy. After the injuries to Nick Koster and Tonderai Chavhanga he was the obvious choice," said Erasmus. "He was the Vodacom Cup side's number one right wing and he has shown good form this season."
Waratahs: Norton-Knight; Turner, Horne, Carter, Tuqiri, Halangahu, Burgess; Robinson, Polota-Nau, Palmer, Mumm, Caldwell, Mowen, Waugh (captain), Palu
Replacements: Fitzpatrick, Kepu, Thomson, Doherty, Sheehan, Beale, Tahu
Stormers: Jantjes; Human, Bobo, de Villiers (captain), Naqelevuki, Grant, Januarie; Blaauw, Brits, Mujati, Fondse, Venter, Burger, Vermeulen, Watson
Replacements: Liebenberg, Moller, Lobberts, Louw, Duvenage, De Waal , Des Fountain