The post Siya Kolisi-era starts in all earnest for the Stormers on Saturday when they host the Cheetahs in the Preparation Series at their new Cape Town Stadium venue.
New brooms don’t always sweep clean but it is the reality that a new dawn starts for the Western Cape team after they ended their Currie Cup campaign on a low.
Their final match at Newlands was supposed to be a fitting farewell, but instead they lost to the Sharks in the semifinals to end the Newlands era in dismay.
Stormers coach John Dobson stressed this week that one of their main goals of the Preparation Series would be to empower the players to hopefully bring back the spark after playing dull and forward orientated rugby over the last season.
With Stormers 19-year-old ‘wunderkind’ Kade Wolhuter at pivot, there could also be a high tempo to the match after the measures imposed by SA Rugby to speed up the game and allow for more ball-in-play minutes.
For now young flank Marcel Theunissen has been tasked with filling the gap following Kolisi’s departure to the Sharks and also that of Jaco Coetzee to Bath.
Dobson said they were hoping to invest in Theunissen and the highly rated Nama Xaba, who was still on his way back from injury.
In contrasting roles for the two locks and captains, Chris van Zyl has been left assured of the Stormers leadership for the whole campaign, while Cheetahs leader Carl Wegner is entering his final campaign before returning to Italy.
There is great anticipation regarding the return of Cheetahs veteran Ruan Pienaar from the bench, but coach Hawies Fourie will also be looking at solutions to his midfield and middle row.