By Jody Hendricks
The first warning sign that all is not well in the
Stomers camp has emerged. Wing Bryan Habana will wear the no 13 jersey in their
clash against the Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday. The Cape side offloaded a number of talented centre’s
at the end of last season. They failed to secure
a deal with Former Springbok centre Adrian Jacobs at the start of the
pre-season and the departure of Jacques Fourie to Japan, Tim Whitehead to the
Sharks and Johan Sadie to the Bulls has left them with very little back-up to
stalwarts Jean De Villiers and Juan De Jongh.
With De Jongh suffering from a cheek injury sustained in
Lions clash two weeks ago, Stormers mentor Alistair Coetzee (who is without the
expertise of Rassie Erasmus) has selected out of form wing Bryan Habana at
Coetzee has done this before though. As Springbok assistant
coach in 2007 he and Jake White selected Habana at number 13 against the Barbarians
in 2007, he looked out of place in that game and had a disastrous outing in the
Boks 22-5 defeat.
Youngsters like Marcell Brache and JP Du Plessis have also not put their
hand up in the pre-season games and with the Super 15 around the corner,
Coetzee will be hoping that his first choice duo of De Villiers and De Jongh
will go through the season injury free.
The fact that Coetzee is also still undecided about who his
number 10 pivot is going to be this season has added the shuffle in the
midfield. Coetzee cold have selected Burton Francis at no 12 (a position he has
played for at the Bulls and the Lions) and move Jean De Villiers to outside
centre. By doing this could have given Habana more game time on the wing.
The Stormers team will almost be at full strength, only
Captain Schalk Burger who played in an under-strength team that faced the
cheetahs this past weekend will be missing. But that was done to avoid a clash
with Kings Captain and old foe Luke Watson.
The Stormers should easily beat the Kings on Saturday but
the selection of Habana at no 13 is either preparing them for back-up in case
anything happens to De Jongh or De Villiers. Or it’s a sign that Coetzee is panicking
without Rassie there to hold his hand…