Kolisi to play at No 8 as Roberts joins Stormers

CAPE TOWN – Siya Kolisi can be a “devastating player” for the Stormers as a No 8, and has the skill-set to play in that position.

That was the verdict of assistant coach Dawie Snyman yesterday, after head coach John Dobson pulled a surprise out of the hat by selecting the Springbok captain at the back of the scrum for the Stormers’ Superhero Sunday clash against the Sharks at FNB Stadium (1pm kickoff).

Kolisi made his name as a hard-running loose forward in that position at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth, but has had to move to the side of the scrum in senior rugby, mainly due to his lack of size – 1.87m and 106kg – for a traditional South African No 8, in the mould of a Duane Vermeulen.

But with former World Under-20 Player of the Year Juarno Augustus still not ready to play – he is set to return to training on Monday – Dobson will use the opportunity to see if Kolisi can rekindle his barnstorming junior days, while also giving Nama Xaba a chance in a specialist openside flank role.

“Nama’s preferred position is No 6, and obviously Siya has played there at school. We are toying with the idea of playing him at eight at certain stages, because he is a great ball-carrier and he’s got the skill-set to play there,” Snyman said in Bellville yesterday.

“It will depend on the opposition (in future) and the combination of the loose forwards. If we have Jaco Coetzee and Augustus available, then we will look at what’s best suited – for those three to play, and there’s Pieter-Steph (du Toit). We haven’t really discussed Siya’s future at the Boks in terms of position. It’s a once-off for now, and we will see how it goes. It’s to test him, and he’s very excited about the idea because you watched him at school, and he’s got a bit of the freedom of the park. Catching the ball, he can be a devastating player.

“The six role ties him up a bit – very close to the breakdowns, and working hard at the contact points. We want to see if we can free him up a little bit and use him in that role as well.”

Lock JD Schickerling is still injured, and Snyman said the management are not sure of his return date, but flank-cum-lock Cobus Wiese will be ready next week. Du Toit is still on course to face the Hurricanes on 1 February.

Meanwhile, the Stormers announced that Welsh international centre Jamie Roberts has joined them for the 2020 Super Rugby season to fill the void left by Damian de Allende, who is playing in Japan.

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Not only that, Dobson said that he will play a mentorship role to the likes of halfbacks Damian Willemse and Herschel Jantjies, as well as inside centres Rikus Pretorius and Dan du Plessis.

“It has long been a goal of mine to play in the southern hemisphere, and I cannot think of a better place to do so than in the Western Cape, where people are so passionate about their rugby and also staying in Cape Town, which is such an amazing city,” said Roberts, who is set to arrive in the city next Wednesday.

Stormers v Sharks (Sunday, 1pm)

15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Siya Kolisi (captain), 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Nama Xaba, 5 David Meihuizen, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.

Bench: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Hilton Lobberts, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Thys Kitshoff, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 24 Seabelo Senatla, 25 Michal Hazner, 26 David Kriel.

Stormers v Southern Kings (Friday, 7pm)

15 David Kriel, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Michal Hazner, 12 Cornel Smit, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Johan du Toit, 7 De Wet Marais, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 Ben-Jason Dixon, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Frans Malherbe (captain), 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak.

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