That was the view of coach Robbie Fleck on Thursday after naming his team for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Reds at Newlands (3pm kickoff).
Frans Malherbe will captain the team on his own for the first time in the absence of Juan de Jongh, who sits out this week with concussion sustained against the Lions. But Fleck is confident that the outside centre will be ready to take on the Waratahs at Newlands next weekend.
That sees Damian de Allende slotting in at inside centre, although Fleck said that he was always going to make his first start of the season this week. He will play alongside the new young general Du Plessis, who has brought a refreshing approach at No 10 following a season-ending knee injury to Kurt Coleman, while Robert du Preez will only return in July from his knee problem.
But while Du Plessis’ all-encompassing approach is welcomed, Fleck feels that the 21-year-old is overdoing it a bit, and needs to pick his moments better against the Reds. “He is raw, but there is certainly talent and skill there. I enjoy the way he controls the game for us, and he is certainly brave and works incredibly hard. I’m enjoying his communication skills, and it is certainly helping our nines and outside backs,” the coach said after practice at Newlands on Thursday.
“He is a work in progress. He ran something like seven kays (kilometres) at the weekend (against the Lions at Ellis Park) and still has that youthfulness of wanting to be involved in everything – tackle everything, clean everything. He just needs to get that balanced approach where he needs to have more control.
“So it’s little things like that where he still needs to mature, but it’s only been a few games for us.”
Du Plessis possesses a booming boot and smashed the ball over the crossbar at Ellis Park with his goal-kicks, but he will have to play a bigger role in exiting the 22 more consistently against the Reds, as that was one of the problem areas in the Lions game.
He will be backed up by another youngster in Brandon Thomson this weekend, as the WP pivot comes on to the bench in De Allende’s place.
The other changes are in the pack, where Schalk Burger is replaced by Siya Kolisi in the loose trio and Nizaam Carr goes back to No 8, while Rynhardt Elstadt makes his first start at lock in place of JD Schickerling.
There are two new props as well, with Malherbe and Oli Kebble coming in for Vincent Koch and JC Janse van Rensburg respectively.
Scarra Ntubeni didn’t recover from a hamstring niggle, so Bongi Mbonambi continues at hooker.
TEAMS FOR NEWLANDS
Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Frans Malherbe (captain), 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.
Bench: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Huw Jones, 23 Brandon Thomson.
Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga’a, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Curtis Browning, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ben Matwijow, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 James Slipper (captain).
Bench: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Michael Gunn, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Duncan Paia’aua, 23 Ayumu Goromaru.
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Original source: Fleck wants more balanced N0 10