CAPE TOWN – Captain Salmaan Moerat will make his return from injury in the DHL Stormers’ Vodacom United Rugby Championship opener against Emirates Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The towering lock has been out of action since December, but will take his place in the DHL Stormers’ second row for the South African derby, which kicks off at 16h00 on Saturday at Emirates Airline Park.
Moerat is one of five Springboks in the starting line-up as he is joined by fullback Warrick Gelant, scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, No.8 Evan Roos and hooker Joseph Dweba in the run-on team, while Springbok prop Lizo Gqoboka and wing Ben Loader are set to make their DHL Stormers debuts from the replacements bench.
Gelant will have wings Leolin Zas and Angelo Davids at the back with him, while Jantjies will partner Clayton Blommetjies at halfback, with Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu and Ruhan Nel linking up in midfield after Dan du Plessis was ruled out with a minor injury late in the week.
Roos will line up with flanks Marcel Theunissen and Ben-Jason Dixon in the loose trio, while Ruben van Heerden will partner Moerat in the second row and Dweba will have props Kwenzo Blose and Neethling Fouche either side of him at scrum-time.
There is also plenty of talent on a replacements bench which features the likes of Gqoboka, loose forwards Hacjivah Dayimani and Willie Engelbrecht and dynamic backs Paul de Wet and Loader.
DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson said that it is a credit to the depth of the squad that despite four players being away at the World Cup, it was still incredibly tough to pick a matchday 23 for the opening game.
“It has been a great pre-season and obviously every player in the squad was desperate to be involved in this match, so there were some tough selections.
“We are looking forward to the challenge of going up to Johannesburg to get the campaign underway.
“There has been a lot of hard work put in to get us to this point and we can’t wait to get going on Saturday,” he said.
DHL Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Clayton Blommetjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Ben-Jason Dixon, 6 Marcel Theunissen, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Salmaan Moerat (captain), 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Kwenzo Blose.
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Gary Porter, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Willie Engelbrecht, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Ben Loader.