Stormers' stand-in coach: It was a 'no-brainer' to pick Petersen at fullback

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Sergeal Petersen during a Stormers training session at Cape Town Stadium. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
Sergeal Petersen during a Stormers training session at Cape Town Stadium. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
  • Stormers coach Rito Hlungwani is comfortable playing Sergeal Petersen at fullback against Griquas in Kimberley.
  • Hlungwani, who takes the head coaching reins from John Dobson, says Petersen will know "when to kick" and "when to run".
  • The Stormers mentor is also excited by the presence of youngsters Sihle Njezula and Evan Roos in the match-day squad.

Stormers coach Rito Hlungwani says it was a "no-brainer" to select Sergeal Petersen at fullback for Tuesday's preparation series encounter against Griquas in Kimberley.

Petersen starts in the No 15 jersey in place of Tristan Leyds, who fractured his finger in last Saturday's 34-33 defeat to the Cheetahs in Cape Town.

Petersen plays most of his rugby on the wing, but the Cape side's coach feels comfortable with his decision at the back.

"We're going to play a balanced game. We want to make good decisions. We believe Sergeal can make great decisions when he comes onto the field. He will know when to kick, he will know when to run," Hlungwani said during an online media briefing on Friday.

"We just want to be a well-balanced team that makes very good decisions... whether it's expansive, whether it's conservative... we back our players to make the right decisions on the day."

Petersen said he was looking forward to playing fullback as it could provide him with more opportunities.

"I do pride myself in the air and with the coach picking me at fullback, it gives me that little bit more freedom and time on the ball and ball in my hands. Hopefully I [can] show some versatility and try and contribute towards the team," Petersen said.

Hlungwani, who takes the head coaching reins from John Dobson for this match, added: "We want to back our players to make good decisions and I think Sergeal is one of those players that will be able to make the right decisions in terms of getting the right balance on how we're going to play.

"We all know that he's quite exciting with ball in hand, but he also can kick so it was a no-brainer for us in terms of putting him there because we believe he'll make the right decisions at the right time."

When probed whether he was looking forward to seeing what Peterson can do on counter-attack, the coach responded: "If he keeps ball in hand, [he's] quite exciting. But if he decides to kick it just means we'll get into their half and be able to contest the lineout and hopefully get possession and attack from there. I back him to make the right decision."

The only other change to the Stormers starting XV sees the exciting Sihle Njezula start at right wing in place of Edwill van der Merwe.

"Sihle is one of our younger players that came through... he's from Grey High School in the Eastern Cape. He came to the Western Province Rugby Institute, he's played SA Under-20s, he's done well... he's developed in the last couple of years and we've been working hard on him and we're just quite excited that he's getting a good opportunity now.

"He's a very strong ball carrier, very good in the air and I'm sure he will want to impress on Tuesday night. [He's] a good kid that we've all worked hard on in the past couple of years, so we're quite excited to see what he can bring to the table on Tuesday night," Hlungwani said.

A notable inclusion on the Stormers bench is that of 21-year-old Evan Roos, who is mainly a loose forward but can also slot in at lock.

Roos has joined the Stormers on loan and Hlungwani said he was excited by the youngster's presence.

"Evan is here on loan from the Sharks, we're very happy to have him. [But] he's a local boy... comes from Paarl Boys... he's been training really well, all the guys have enjoyed having him around."

Tuesday's match in Kimberley kicks off at 16:45.

Teams:

Griquas

15 Masixole Banda, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Michal Haznar, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead (captain), 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Siba Qoma, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Carl Els, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Alandre van Rooyen, 1 Nqobisizwe Mxoli

Substitutes (from): 16 Hendrick Luus, 17 Andrew Beerwinkel, 18 Tijde Visser, 19 Ewan Coetzee, 20 Jo-Hanko de Villiers, 21 Ashlon Davids, 22 Tinus de Beer, 23 Daniel Kasende, 24 Bandisa Ndlovu, 25 Raegan Oranje, 26 Harlon Klaasen

Stormers

15 Sergeal Petersen, 14 Sihle Njezula, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Cornel Smit, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Kade Wolhuter, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ben-Jason Dixon, 6 Marcel Theunissen, 5 Chris van Zyl (captain), 4 David Meihuizen, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak

Substitutes (from): 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, 19 Evan Roos, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Chris Schreuder, 23 Edwill van der Merwe, 24 Sazi Sandi, 25 Abner van Reenen

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