Stormers coach Allistair Coetzee has made just one change to his starting XV for Saturday’s clash against the Sharks in Cape Town.
Springbok Tiaan Liebenberg takes over the No 2 jersey from the injured Deon Fourie in the only change to the run-on side that beat the Bulls 16-0 last weekend.
Fourie has not recovered from the hamstring injury which forced him off the field against the Bulls and his unavailability sees young Stephan Coetzee come on to the bench as replacement hooker.
Coetzee started at hooker when the Stormers and Sharks last met – on May 31 – so he is no stranger to this level of rugby, having already played six matches this season.
Schalk Burger will again lead the team before he leaves for Japan, while Gio Aplon, himself back to full fitness after a long lay-off with an elbow injury, will make his last appearance for the Stormers before taking up a contract with French club Grenoble.
The Stormers have won four games on the bounce but coach Coetzee has warned against complacency against a Sharks side looking for a win as they push for a top-two finish in the Super Rugby table.
Coetzee told the Stormers’ official website: “We need to focus on ourselves, and not the Sharks.
“The important thing for us is to pitch up like we have the past few weeks – like we did against the Bulls – and to show that same kind of intensity.
“Like I said at the start of last week, these last two games are very important for us – but this last one is probably the most important one because that is where you leave your last impressions.
“We definitely would like to end the 2014 season on a high. If we don’t get the result it will be a bit of a setback.”
Sharks director of rugby Jake White has rung changes for Saturday’s clash at Newlands.
The continued absence of Pat Lambie sees Frans Steyn shift back to fly-half in the place of Tim Swiel following last week’s loss to the Cheetahs. Fred Zeilinga has been named as back-up off the bench.
Paul Jordaan returns from injury to a shuffled midfield, starting at 12 as S’bura Sithole and JP Pietersen swap places with the latter at outside centre.
Ryan Kankowski is back at number eight after withdrawing from last week’s game with a groin strain.
White has bolstered the starting line-up with three Boks who played off the bench last week, Willem Alberts on the flank and the Du Plessis brothers in the front row.
Like Lambie, Beast Mtawarira is not yet fit to play meaning SA U20 prop Thomas du Toit gets a start in the place of Dale Chadwick.
The Sharks must win if they hope to secure a home semi-final while the Stormers are playing only for pride.
“In a lot of ways, with nothing to gain, that gives (the Stormers) a lot of freedom because it doesn’t feel like they have a noose around their neck,” said White.
“At the beginning of the year, people said the Stormers and the Cell C Sharks had amongst the two strongest squads in the competition, and that hasn’t changed.
“It doesn’t matter what they say about the injuries, they still have a great squad and they always had the worst draw in their eyes – I’m quoting them. We always knew at the back end of the competition they were going to be a threat and that’s exactly what’s happened.”
Stormers: 15 Taute, 14 Aplon, 13 Tagicakibau, 12 de Jongh, 11 Kolbe, 10 Coleman, 9 Groom; 1 Vermaak, 2 Liebenberg, 3 Cilliers, 4 Rhodes, 5 Botha, 6 Carr, 7 Burger (c), 8 Vermeulen.
Replacements: 16 Coetzee, 17 Sithole, 18 Dreyer, 19 Carizza, 20 Kolisi, 21 Schreuder, 22 Grant, 23 Senatla
Sharks: 15 Marais, 14 Sithole, 13 Pietersen, 12 Jordaan, 11 Mvovo, 10 Steyn, 9 Reinach; 1 du Toit, 2 B du Plessis (c), 3 J du Plessis, 4 Bresler, 5 Lewies, 6 Coetzee, 7 Alberts, 8 Kankowski.
Replacements: 16 Cooper, 17 Herbst, 18 Adriaanse, 19 Oosthuizen, 20 Deysel, 21 McLeod, 22 Zeilinga, 23 Chavhanga
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Super Rugby: Stormers host Sharks at Newlands