Teenagers to play for Stormers

Stephen Nell

Cape Town – Teenage props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe could be in the running to make the Stormers squad ahead of more experienced campaigners for their Super Rugby kick-off against the Lions on 26 February.

Wicus Blaauw, JC Kritzinger and JD Moller were all part of the Western Province squad that conducted a coaching clinic at Schotsche Kloof Primary School in the Bo Kaap on Tuesday.

Kritzinger has only just recovered from a knee injury and is expected to be called up as a versatile prop option by the Stormers once he is match-fit.

In the meantime it should not come as a surprise to see one of Kitshoff or Malherbe utilised as a substitute against the Lions at Newlands. Both are 19 years old.

Kitshoff is then likely to be the favourite as he is a loosehead prop. The expectation is that the Stormers will start with Brok Harris at tighthead and CJ van der Linde as loosehead. Van der Linde has vast experience of playing tighthead and will be able to slot in there if the situation demands.

But Stormers forwards coach Matt Proudfoot cautioned that a final decision had not been taken on the props that will play against the Lions. Blaauw’s presence in the WP squad therefore does not necessarily mean that he’s out of favour at the Stormers.

“Wicus is a good player and JC is returning from an injury. Realistically there are six props that are likely to feature for the Stormers this year,” said Proudfoot.

Here he is probably referring to Van der Linde, Harris, Kritzinger, Blaauw, Kitshoff and Malherbe.

WP’s Vodacom Cup campaign also starts on 26 February in a curtain-raiser at Newlands. It will therefore be interesting to see how the props are utilised at the Stormers and WP. There will also be close co-operation between the Stormers and WP coaches.

“It’s still early days and we have not made a final decision on team selection. There may still be developments. We’ll also analyse the Lions’ game against the Bulls before we pick a side,” said Proudfoot.

While the numerous prop options have to be welcomed, the situation is looking a little desperate at hooker in the wake of the knee injury suffered by Tiaan Liebenberg.

Deon Fourie is now the first choice, but the question is whether the Stormers will be prepared to enter the competition with youngster Siyabonga Ntubeni as his understudy.

“We had a lengthy discussion about it today and feel comfortable knowing that Callie Visagie (Maties captain) is in the province. We’re also looking at what is available outside WP,” said Proudfoot.

Visagie, however, has academic commitments and therefore has not signed a contract with WP for this season.
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