Jantjes brings something different, says Coetzee

Although Gio Aplon is a contender for the Springboks’ World Cup squad later this year, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee on Wednesday insisted that the defensive capabilities of Conrad Jantjes will better suit the game plan he has in mind for Saturday’s Super Rugby semifinal against the Crusaders at Newlands.

“If you look at Conrad’s positional play and his defensive capabilities, it is the reason why I’ve gone with Connie at 15 and it has worked for us before,” Coetzee said after naming his side.

The inclusion of Jantjes in the last line of defence is one of three changes the Stormers mentor made to his backline.

After playing at wing in their 44-34 victory over the Cheetahs a fortnight ago, Jean de Villiers is back in his favoured midfield position alongside Jaque Fourie who, despite not taking part in training this week, was included in the team.

Fourie and scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenhage are both struggling with minor injuries which prompted Coetzee not to risk them in Wednesday’s wet training conditions.

With De Villiers back at centre, Juan de Jongh drops to the bench while Aplon will be on the wing.

Coetzee added that his backline formation can change during the match.

“When you are looking to attack Gio is the better choice [at fullback] but this is a play-off game,” he said.

“Conrad has got a big boot, he has been in big games before and I think that is a combination that has worked well for us and if we need any impact on attack we can still make the switch.”

Getting back on the bike
In the forwards pack, young Nick Koster replaces the injured Duane Vermeulen at eighthman while Coetzee has again opted to give the more experienced Tiaan Liebenberg the nod ahead of Deon Fourie at hooker.

Fourie had been the team’s first choice number two while Liebenberg was recovering from injury.

“At this stage of the competition players have played a lot of rugby and you would like to have impact and physical intensity for 80 minutes and Deon is without a doubt a better impact player,” said Coetzee.

The return of Schalk Brits from Saracens should also be of great value to the men from the Cape who are desperate to have some silverware to show for their efforts.

Super Rugby regulations had made provision for Brits to join the team, but he may only be utilised as a loose-forward and not at hooker where he normally plies his trade.

Coetzee said that he is pleased to have a player of his quality back at such a crucial time adding that Brits had slotted in well during training this week.

“It is like getting onto a bicycle after a long time, Scalla has settled in very well.”

Team: Conrad Jantjes, Gio Aplon, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Peter Grant, Dewaldt Duvenage, Nick Koster, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger (captain), Andries Bekker, Rynhardt Elstadt, Brok Harris, Tiaan Liebenberg, Wicus Blaauw.

Replacements: Deon Fourie, Steven Kitshoff, Anton van Zyl, Schalk Brits, Louis Schreuder, Juan de Jongh, Johann Sadie. — Sapa

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