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THE suspension of Gauteng Lions lock Willem Stoltz is a major blow to the team going for tomorrow's Super 14 clash against the Hurricanes in Wellington, New Zealand.
Stoltz's one-week suspension after striking a Chiefs player during last Friday's clash at Ellis Park has left the second row with a decidedly brittle look to it.
Announcing his starting line-up yesterday, coach Dick Muir has opted for new cap George Earl to fill in for Stoltz. At his side will be the more experienced combination of Todd Clever and captain Cobus Grobbelaar, but up against a well-drilled outfit like the Hurricanes, their work will be cut out.
Muir will also be looking to new signing Carlos Spencer for some backline inspiration.
He may be lacking a yard of pace, but the 34-year-old Spencer provided glimpses of his talent in last weeks 62-75 loss to the Chiefs. His hands are as slick as ever and it may just be a matter of time before he clicks with his outside pairing of Doppies le Grange and Deon van Rensburg. Riding a high after a 47-22 victory over the Western Force, the Hurricanes will be looking to make three-out-of-three before heading for the overseas leg.
l Elsewhere today, Crusaders will likely use their home turf to beat the visiting Sharks at Christchurch, New Zealand.
l The Stormers-Brumbies' tie should be one of the closer games this weekend when the two meet in Cape Town today.