The Stormers will unleash two of the fastest backs in South Africa when they face Griquas in their Preparation Series round two match in Kimberley on Tuesday, namely Sergeal Petersen at fullback and rookie Sihle Njezula on the wing.
Petersen, normally a wing, replaces the injured Tristan Leyds, while Njezula gets his first chance in the place of Edwill van der Merwe.
Rito Hlungwani, the forward coach who will act as head coach for this game on a trial basis, said it was a no-brainer to recall Petersen, while Njezula has all the attributes to become a top-class player.
“Sihle is one of our younger players who has come through the ranks,” said Hlungwani. “He’s from Grey High in the Eastern Cape and came to our Western Province rugby institute.”
Njezula played for the SA U20 team and Hlungwani said he had done well and developed in the past couple of years.
“We have been working hard with him and are excited about his opportunity. He is a strong ball-carrier and very good in the air and I’m sure he will want to impress come Tuesday night.”
Petersen has had a nightmare run with injuries but is obviously thrilled to be back, even if he’ll play out of position next week.
“I back myself with my ability in the air and the coach has given me the backing at fullback where there will be a little bit more freedom,” said Petersen.
“Hopefully I’ll get more time with ball in hand, show some versatility and try to contribute to the team.”
Hlungwani said one of the Stormers’ goals is to give as much game-time as possible to all the players who didn’t get a chance to play in the Currie Cup and Super Rugby Unlocked competitions.
Stormers: Sergeal Petersen, Sihle Njezula, Ruhan Nel, 12 Cornel Smit, Leolin Zas, Kade Wolhuter, Godlen Masimla, Juarno Augustus, Ben-Jason Dixon, Marcel Theunissen, Chris van Zyl (capt), David Meihuizen, Neethling Fouche, Scarra Ntubeni, Ali Vermaak. Bench (from): Chad Solomon, Kwenzo Blose, Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, Evan Roos, Ernst van Rhyn, Paul de Wet, Chris Schreuder, Edwill van der Merwe, Sazi Sandi, Abner van Reenen.