Fleck set to unleash young guns

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“Leolin has got searing pace, and he’s a good finisher, let’s see how he goes on the weekend,” Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said yesterday.

Zas turns 21 in October and his inclusion in the strongest side available to Fleck is partly a result of Cornal Hendricks’ withdrawal.

It has been reported that the Springbok wing was diagnosed with a heart condition at the end of last year and that it may be serious enough to bring an abrupt end to his playing days.

Fleck referred all questions about Hendricks to SA Rugby, but the national governing body declined to make any comment until they had gathered further information on the matter.

Regardless, Hendricks has not participated in any of the Stormers’ pre-season activities since moving to Cape Town from the Cheetahs at the end of last year, and it is unlikely that he will return in time to face the Bulls at home in the first week of Super Rugby.

In conjunction with the uncertainty surrounding full-time SA Sevens flyer Seabelo Senatla’s availability to play Super Rugby this season, there is an opening in the back three and it is one that Fleck believes Zas is ready to fill.

“He has done exceptionally well in the pre-season, and he’s carrying a lot of form through from the Western Province Under-21 set-up from last year,” the coach said, referring to the hat-trick of tries scored by Zas against the SWD Eagles in George last month.

“He’s certainly a talent that’s going to go far in the game and he deserves his shot on the left wing.

“We’re in a situation where we’ve got a young team and we need to back the youngsters, and he’s one of the talented youngsters coming through so, if it comes to it, I have no doubt he’ll do well if he’s selected on the wing against the Bulls.”

The Newlands faithful will also be looking forward to seeing three newcomers jog out in the Stormers jersey for the first time as JC Janse van Rensburg, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Jano Vermaak have been named in the 31-man squad.

Van Rensburg has joined the Stormers after a three-year stint for Bayonne in France, Bok lock Du Toit was a high-profile acquisition from the Sharks during the off-season and Vermaak left Toulouse to make his WP debut during the Currie Cup.

Cheslin Kolbe and Juan de Jongh returned from Sevens duty this week. Both have been assigned to a week of strength training to regain the weight lost in the Sevens conditioning process, and Dillyn Leyds and Johnny Kotze will line up at fullback and outside centre tomorrow respectively.

Players returning from club rugby in Japan, Schalk Burger and Eben Etzebeth, have been rested after “24 months of rugby”, while Frans Malherbe (ankle) and Siya Kolisi (calf) have also been stood down as a precaution.

Fleck also revealed that Saru has informed the Super Rugby franchises that contracted Boks have been capped at 15 matches this season, including warm-up games and playoffs.

The expanded competition now consists of 15 league matches and three knockout rounds. Malherbe played against the Eagles and will therefore be required to sit out at least once this season.

Though tomorrow’s friendly will be played in four, 20-minute chukkas, the Jaguares squad is populated with Argentine internationals and Fleck is hoping that a young Stormers bench will rise to the challenge when they are confronted with Test-calibre intensity for the first time. - Cape Times

Original source: Fleck set to unleash young guns

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