Hooker Fourie at No8 for Stormers
STORMERS coach Allister Coetzee showed his willingness to experiment in the face of adversity by selecting Deon Fourie at No8 for Saturday's Super 15 match against the Melbourne Rebels at Newlands.
Fourie, normally a hooker, will pack down at the base of the scrum for the first time - making this the eighth different loose trio combination of the season.
But Coetzee's seemingly odd decision is one of necessity. Without the injured Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen, Nick Koster and Nizaam Carr and the cup-tied Jebb Sinclair, the Stormers have no eighthmen remaining.
And with the semifinal looming, he needs to find an answer at the base of the scrum urgently.
Flank Siya Kolisi was used at No8 two weeks ago, but the experiment did not work and essentially robbed the Stormers of a quality flank while not improving their eighthman situation.
Kolisi has been superb at openside and Coetzee needs him to continue his high level of performance.
"The most important thing is to have our best players on the field and that's what we're doing by putting Deon at No8," Coetzee said. "We have tried Siya at No8, but I feel that Siya and Rynhardt Elstadt have formed a strong combination on the flanks. We have to try this new combination before we get to the play-offs.
"Eight and six are similar when it comes to competing for the ball on the ground and Deon has played openside before. He will be the first off the scrum and the first [to break] from the lineout, so we will want to use that to good effect. He's got the speed and the attitude to be a force in that position."
Tiaan Liebenberg will play hooker, while there are two props on the bench as there is no need for a replacement specialist hooker with Fourie at No8.
Springbok sevens player Boom Prinsloo will earn his first Super rugby cap for the Cheetahs in their last encounter of the competition against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.
Prinsloo starts at the back of the scrum in place of the injured Justin Downey, who dislocated a finger last week.
In other injury-enforced changes made by Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske, Philip Snyman has been included on the wing in place of Cameron Jacobs, while Griquas scrumhalf Jacques Coetzee has been named on the bench after Tewis de Bruyn pulled out due to a groin strain.
Drotske has also bolstered his reserves with a familiar face, with former vice-captain and centre Andries Strauss filling Snyman's void and supplying back-up. - Additional reporting by Sapa