new chapter for stormers
FOREVER the bridesmaid and never the bride when it comes to Super 14 rugby, the Stormers will be hoping to get their 2010 campaign off to a winning start when they take on the Gauteng Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday night.
With the two big signings in the off-season - Bryan Habana from the Bulls and Jaque Fourie from the Lions - having slotted in nicely in the warm-up matches last month, coach Allister Coetzee will also be upbeat with the news that captain Schalk Burger should be fit enough to lead his team out at the Coca-Cola Stadium.
Leaving the field last Saturday with a bruised shoulder while playing against a Boland Invitation XV, the blonde Springbok flanker has had a few days of rest and appears ready to take on the Lions in their own back yard.
Usually slow starters in the competition, Coetzee will be hoping the settled look his side have will be enough to see them through to a semifinal berth - something they have not achieved since the inception of the Super 14 in 2006.
Scrumhalf Ricky Januarie is back after a stint playing in the Heineken Cup in Europe while outside him Willem de Waal will be looking to build on the form he displayed in the latter stages of the Currie Cup last year.
A 54-12 win over the Western Force followed up with 29-14 victory over the Sharks will have given the Cape Town-based side the world of confidence coming in to what is regarded as the premier rugby competition in the world.
For new Lions coach Dick Muir it hasn't been a happy last couple of weeks.
Losing leading player Willem Alberts to the Sharks in the off-season in controversial circumstances has robbed the team of a player who was just starting to bloom. Mind you, Muir will be hoping new signing Jonathan Mokuena will fill the large gap left by Alberts.
The big signing for the Lions is without doubt that of former All Black Carlos Spencer.