Finding space, defending well: Dobson offers balanced criteria for Stormers' new-look midfield

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With certain first-choice players out of the fold temporarily, Stormers coach John Dobson is showing his hand in trialling new combinations as he runs the rule on his depth stocks.

A third centre combination for the Stormers will front Zebre in their United Rugby Championship (URC) clash on Saturday afternoon.

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Dobson named Sacha Mngomezulu and Alapati Leiua at inside and outside centre, respectively, for the round four game at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Italy.

"We wanted to give Sacha a start ... and we had to get Alapati on the field. It is a big risk, but on Wednesday [at training], they were combining very well," Dobson told reporters on Friday.

"A good result would be for them to front up defensively and for Alapati to be comfortable in leading the line because 13 is not a position he's played a lot."

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Dobson also revealed they had contemplated leaving Damian Willemse at inside centre and moving Mngomezulu to fullback.

The decision to ignore that idea was strengthened by Willemse being an international fullback who has more experience and will be able to provide suitable leadership during the game.

Back to his midfield pair, Dobson said: "I'm not worried about how they will play off each other ... we would like to see Sacha putting him through a few gaps like we saw on Wednesday."

"He's [Mngomezulu] a very, very exciting player for us."

Sacha Mngomezulu
Sacha Mngomezulu. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
Alapati Leiua. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Other changes to the Stormers team to take on Zebre include Herschel Jantjies coming in for Paul de Wet, who drops to the bench.

Junior Pokomela and Willie Engelbrecht will join Evan Roos in the loose trio.

Kick-off is at 16:00 (SA time).

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