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Stormers to test depth against Sunwolves

By Craig Ray | 2017-03-21 12:32:31.0

The Stormers will give chances to fringe players when they take on the Sunwolves in a fifth round Super Rugby match in Singapore at the weekend.

Looseforward Cobus Wiese looks set to become the latest Stormers debutant due to his versatility in the back row while the pack is set for a major overhaul.

Without the resting Springbok quartet of locks Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ prop Frans Malherbe and No 8 Nizaam Carr‚ the pack has lost huge experience and talismanic figures.

But forward’s coach Russell Winter believes that it’s a necessary part of player management as the team heads into a tough seven-week stretch that includes four matches against New Zealand opposition.

Etzebeth‚ Du Toit and Malherbe have been rested due to an agreement with the Springboks and Winter admitted that is does complicate their planning.

“It’s not easy but it is the right thing to do for the players‚” Winter said from Singapore.

“Our draw is not the easiest because it would’ve been good to have a bye in the next seven week period we have‚ but that’s the way it is.

"There aren’t any easy draws.

“When we come home we face the Cheetahs‚ Chiefs and Lions and then travel to play against three NZ teams and then home for another match.

"We have seven weeks of tough‚ tough rugby ahead and it will be hard for us to rest one of those players (Etzebeth or Du Toit) then.

“We won’t be able to rest our best players in that period. So this match has given us a chance to do that and also to give some promising players a chance.

"I’m sure there is a Springbok in the making among the new faces.”

Winter was full of praise for the amount of hard work the fringe players have put in weekly without playing opportunity and expected that the energy would be significant from the group.

“Hopefully the door opens for some of these new guys this weekend‚” Winter said.

“Cobus (Wiese) has been very good in the pre-season and because of the looseforwards we have chosen for the weekend‚ we felt he would give us the best cover off the bench.

“We need to have a look at him at this level and he can cover all three positions in the back row.

“[Locks] Jan de Klerk‚ JD Schickerling and Chris van Zyl deserve a chance too because they have not only trained well‚ but were good in the warm-up games earlier this year.

“Obviously Eben and Pieter-Steph are phenomenal players who have formed a great partnership. Without them‚ we have spent a bit more time in terms of our preparation with the locks for this match.

“They are all up for the challenge and it will be good to see what sort of depth we have for the rest of the season.

“We are also toying with the idea of playing Oli Kebble at tighthead. Frans van Wyk is in the mix and we also have Wilco Louw.” - TMG Digital