Fleck faces Stormers halfback poser

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That is one of the dilemmas facing Stormers coach Robbie Fleck ahead of the February 27 kickoff against the Bulls at Newlands.

But the former Springbok midfielder may be provided with a few answers in what is one of the toughest warm-up games this year against Argentina’s Jaguares at Newlands on Saturday (4pm kickoff).

Fleck has opted to start with the experienced Jano Vermaak to partner youngster Robert du Preez against the Jaguares, who boast Los Pumas Test pair Martin Landajo and Nicolas Sanchez.

Landajo - who has 52 caps - made seven appearances at the 2015 Rugby World Cup as the understudy to first-choice No 9 Tomas Cubelli, who has joined the Brumbies this year.

And we all know about the classy flyhalf Sanchez, who was the leading points-scorer at the Rugby World Cup with 97 in seven matches, four more points than Bok pivot Handré Pollard.

So, if ever Fleck wanted to know if Du Preez can handle the intensity at a higher level than Currie Cup, he will find out on Saturday. Fleck has the experienced Kurt Coleman on the bench, who is sure to get some time on the park as well.

Vermaak joined Western Province for the Currie Cup from French club Toulouse last year, and is seen as the experienced hand that the Stormers have lacked over the years at scrumhalf.

But Nic Groom has improved every year despite making the odd mistake, and would want to hold on to the No 9 jersey he has worn in the last few seasons.

“There’s very much still competition. There are four scrummies in the make-up and they’re going to get 20 minutes each. So, I still need to determine who is going to be the number one scrummy. In terms of the flyhalves, Robert and Kurt both still need some game time, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they go,” Fleck told Independent Media at Newlands after naming his team for the Jaguares match.

(The Jaguares halfbacks) is a true test for us, and that’s how it’s going to be across the board. There are a number of Test players in their team, and while they may not have 65 or 70 caps, they have a good 20 or so caps - and that’s a lot of Test matches.

“But Landajo and Sanchez are good players, skilful and understand their game plan very well. But our guys have been going well and training hard, and let’s hope they step up.”

Jones, who was born in Edinburgh and attended Millfield School in Somerset, England, first came to Cape Town after school and spent a gap year at Bishops Preparatory, before catching the eye while playing for UCT in the Varsity Cup in 2014.

He made his Stormers debut on a big stage against the Hurricanes in New Zealand, where he came up against Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith last year. Jones acquitted himself well, and has explosive pace for such a well-built midfielder at 1.86m and 91kg.

Jones, who turned 22 last December, has the knack of taking the outside gap as a No 13, but due to Damian de Allende’s injury-enforced absence, Fleck is considering him at inside centre, which would see Juan de Jongh operate at outside.

“Good player, and he’s got lots of pace and is a good ball player,” Fleck said of Jones. “He is improving every week and had a wonderful debut against the Hurricanes last year, and didn’t really get much opportunity after that.

“But he’s had a good pre-season and he’s playing 12 on Saturday, which I’m excited about. That’s where I first saw him playing for us - I put him there for a warm-up game against the Cheetahs, and I think he’s got the attributes to play both centre positions. But 12 is an interesting position, and he is a big boy, can kick and pass, and communicates well.

“Twelve is the interesting one - what are we going to do there? Hopefully Jonesy goes well on the weekend and we can start settling on that.”

*Follow @IndyCapeSport on Twitter for live updates of the Stormers v Jaguares match at Newlands on Saturday, which kicks off at 4pm and will not be televised.

Teams for Newlands

Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr (captain), 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.

Bench: Scarra Ntubeni, Mikey Willemse, JC Janse van Rensburg, JP Smith, Alistair Vermaak, Jan de Klerk, JD Schickerling, Rikus Bothma, Jurie van Vuuren, Nic Groom, Godlen Masimla, Louis Schreuder, Kurt Coleman, Brandon Thomson, Ryan Oosthuizen, Khanyo Ngcukana.

Jaguares: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Tomás Lezana, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustín Creevy (captain), 1 Santiago García Botta.

Bench: Julian Montoya, Lucas Noguera Paz, Cristian Bartoloni, Felipe Arregui, Santiago Iglesias Valdez, Felipe Ezcurra, Santiago González Iglesias, Gonzalo Bertranou, Emiliano Boffelli, Tomás Carrio, Rodrigo Baez, Javier Ortega Desio, Leonardo Senatore, Pablo Matera, Guido Petti, Ignacio Larrague, Ramiro Herrera.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen.

Kickoff: 4pm (not televised).

ashfak.mohamed@inl.co.za

@IndyCapeSport

Independent Media

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Original source: Fleck faces Stormers halfback poser

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