Modern day flyhalves under massive pressure - Fleck

Cape Town - On Saturday, Jean-Luc du Plessis will start his second Super Rugby match in a row when the Stormers face the Sharks in Durban. 

It is significant when one considers that he has spent almost all of the last two seasons sidelined with a series of abdominal and groin issues that, at one stage, were threatening to end his career. 

While he didn't start in the 40-3 hammering at Loftus in week one, Du Plessis was in the No 10 jersey as the Stormers somehow found a way over the line against the Lions at Newlands last weekend. 

It was far from pretty, but the win was desperately needed in Cape Town. 

A playmaker who is known for his ability to take control, Du Plessis makes his comeback at a time where flyhalves are the target of a modern day defensive system that gives them limited time to make decisions and influence matches. 

That is the view of Stormers coach Robbie Fleck.

"There is a lot of spotlight under the No 10s these days with increased line speed from a defensive point of view," he told media at Newlands on Thursday.

"Modern day defences are really putting No 10s under pressure and they still have to find a way to control the game, whether that's standing a little bit deeper or a little adjustment here and there.

"It will be interesting to see how Beauden Barrett is going to go because in the past he was allowed to run at the advantage line and was given time and space but with line speed what it is now, that has been taken away from him."

With Damian Willemse looking to settle at fullback, the Stormers could do with Du Plessis making the No 10 jersey his and his alone in 2019. 

"You want your No 10s to dominate and there were glimpses of it last weekend in the second half when I felt that Jean-Luc started to take control of the game," Fleck said.

"You just look at the way that Richie Mo'unga drives the Crusaders, the way Elton Jantjies drives the Lions and Rob du Preez is doing a good job at the Sharks ... that's what is expected of these guys these days."

The weather forecast suggests that there could be rain in Durban on Saturday, which could potentially make the job of the flyhalves even more difficult, but Fleck knows Kings Park well enough.

"Rain is expected (in Durban) but we all know that if it is hot and humid there the ball gets slippery anyway. It's difficult conditions," he said.

Kick-off is at 17:15.

Teams:

Sharks

15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (captain), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Hyron Andrews, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Curwin Bosch

Stormers

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 SP Marais, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak

Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Ruhan Nel, 23 Dillyn Leyds

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