CAPE TOWN – Stormers coach John Dobson says he’s excited to see how scrumhalf Godlen Masimla goes in their Super Rugby outing against the Lions tomorrow (kick-off 3.05pm).
Dobson has made three changes and one positional switch to his starting line-up for the Ellis Park date, with Masimla getting his first start of the season in the absence of Herschel Jantjies, who’s nursing the sternoclavicular injury he picked up ahead of the Bulls game.
The other changes see Juarno Augustus also getting his first start in 2020 after returning from injury. He will start at No 8 in the place of Johan du Toit, who moves into the No 6 jumper with Jaco Coetzee unavailable for the Round Three clash as he’s still recovering from a concussion.
In the front row Wilco Louw, who will join English club Harlequins after the Super Rugby season, comes into the run-on side, with Frans Malherbe providing strong cover on the bench.
Among the replacements, fit-again JD Schickerling will provide second-row cover alongside Cobus Wiese, while Paul de Wet, who can cover scrumhalf and wing, will make his first Super Rugby appearance this season.
On Masimla’s inclusion, Dobson said: “He’s grown a lot. His physicality and kicking has improved a lot. He wasn’t a great box-kicker when he first got here, but it’s really improved.
“We are really excited about him, and I’m not just saying that for the sake of it, we really are.”
Masimla is another exciting scrumhalf, one who’ll be keen to make the most of his opportunities since returning from the Kings and playing amateur rugby in Paarl last year.
A start for Masimla, though the circumstances aren’t ideal, is something that would have happened down the line anyway, as Jantjies’ workload, just like all the other Boks, needs to be managed, Dobson added.
“We know in terms of SA Rugby protocol Herschel can’t start every game. We have to build capacity.”
The Stormers will travel to Johannesburg as the favourites after beating the Hurricanes 27-0 and securing a 13-0 victory over their old foes, the Bulls, at Newlands.
Dobson added that they’re not too focused on the fact that their impressive record of keeping two consecutive teams scoreless could end this week. He’s expecting it, in fact, but he’s just focused on scoring tries and winning the game.
“We have spoken about it. There is going to be a woo, woo, woo about the first team that scores against us. Of course it is going to happen,” he said.
“People would say that Morne Steyn turned down about 36 points in kicks against us. But don’t forget that every single one of those kicks went to the corner where we had to defend. We had no problem with them going for poles, it means much less defensive work.
“So it is going to happen and we accept that. But we have got a certain standard. And I am only interested in the tries column. It is going to happen and we know it is going to happen, but we have to maintain that standard.
“If you go to Ellis Park and only concede one or two tries, you have won the game.”
Starting XV: 15 Dillyn Leyds 14 Sergeal Petersen 13 Ruhan Nel 12 Jamie Roberts 11 Seabelo Senatla 10 Damian Willemse 9 Godlen Masimla 8 Juarno Augustus 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit 6 Johan du Toit 5 Chris van Zyl 4 Salmaan Moerat 3 Wilco Louw 2 Scarra Ntubeni 1 Steven Kitshoff (capt)
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon 17 Ali Vermaak 18 Frans Malherbe 19 JD Schickerling 20 Cobus Wiese 21 Ernst van Rhyn 22 Paul de Wet 23 Jean-Luc du Plessis