The Stormers will welcome back a few Springbok tourists from the UK for their United Rugby Championship match against the Lions in Cape Town this weekend, but two regular Bok matchday squad members have been given an extended break.
Assistant coach Dawie Snyman confirmed on Wednesday that prop Steven Kitshoff and scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies have been given leave and will only be available for the team in the new year.
“Steven and Herschel will only be joining us again after Christmas. They have been involved in (almost) all of the Test matches for the Boks this year so we felt that they needed a bit of a break, so they are recharging at the moment,” said Snyman.
“We have given them time off away from rugby to spend some time with their families because they have been in a few bubbles and spent a lot of time away from home.”
The Stormers though will have a big Bok presence for the match at the Cape Town Stadium.
“Salmaan (Moerat) and Marvin Orie have come straight back in after Bok tour duty, Damian Willemse trained with us last week and was available for the selection against Zebre, but he needs to get a bit of time off at some stage of the season so we are still deciding if he will play this weekend,” said Snyman.
Meanwhile, the Stormers are gearing up to come face to face with their former wing Edwill van der Merwe, who’s first match since making the switch to the Lions comes against his former side after the postponement of rounds six and seven of the United Rugby Championship due to the new Covid variant led to the rescheduling of fixtures.
Van der Merwe featured in three of the Stormers’ four matches in Europe at the start of the competition and is expected to line up on the wing against the Stormers on Saturday.
“Prepping for any team you look for strengths and weaknesses and places you can target. We all know Edwill’s ability and how well he did over here and he can’t be far away from a Bok call up the way he has been playing lately,” admitted Stormers centre Dan du Plessis.
“But the focus is more on ourselves, although it will be nice to come up against him again even though it will be on the opposite side of the field.”
Snyman added: “It was a great opportunity for Edwill to move and it was really sad for us losing him. He’s a great player and was always competitive here, so that is not going to change and it is going to be a nice match up.”