Loosehead Kitshoff has started in all 10 matches for the Stormers this season, while Etzebeth has to miss out this week because of SA Rugby’s strategic rest plan, as none of the contracted Boks may feature in more than four matches in a row.
Kitshoff has arguably been the best loosehead prop in the competition, with his powerful scrumming and his unbelievable work-rate around the park.
And coach Allister Coetzee and his staff want to keep him fresh for the business end of the competition as they look set for the top spot in the South African conference.
Outside backs like Damian de Allende and Cheslin Kolbe have also featured in all the matches so far, but Coetzee isn’t worried about their workload compared to the physical nature of Kitshoff’s job description.
“It’s really a good thing to give Kitshoff a bit if breather and get him ready for the rest of the competition,” Coetzee told the media yesterday.
“I don’t have to rest Cheslin, but because he is an explosive player we manage his load during the week. I think that’s why he is still doing well. The same goes for Damian. There is a bye in two weeks time and certain guys must push for two more weeks before they get a break.
“It’s the other players like Steve, whose job is physically taxing, where we have to bat clever. Kitsie cannot start every game loosehead for us this year. It’s impossible. We have got Oli Kebble and Ali Vermaak, two good looseheads.”
Etzebeth was a colossus against the Bulls on Saturday and really revved up the Stormers’ pack, helping to give the side good go-forward with his powerful surges up the middle.
While the Stormers will miss his impact against the Cheetahs, his understudy Jean Kleyn has shown over the last two seasons that he can also impose himself on the opposition.
This will also allow Argentine lock Manuel Carriza to come back into the fold and bolster the Stormers’ line-out, which endured all sorts of strife against the Bulls.
“I have confidence and a belief in the squad system. It has worked in the past,” Coetzee said.
“With Eben’s rest plan, we have got a total of three weeks to work in, because you don’t want to look at the back end of the season to do it.
“You need to give yourself some breathing space. If Eben rests this weekend it will be a Saru rest.”
A plethora of Stormers players sat out training yesterday, with captain Duane Vermeulen nursing a sore shoulder, Juan de Jongh managing a niggling ankle injury and Nizaam Carr nursing a knock to the knee.
However, all these players will be fit for this weekend’s match, while the Stormers also welcome back winger Dillyn Leyds after he missed the Bulls game with a shoulder injury.
Another familiar face back in circulation is Jaco Taute who has missed the entire season with a knee injury. Coetzee said he could play a Vodacom Cup matches in two weeks time to get some minutes in his legs.
The tough thing for the Stormers is going to be to lift the intensity to the same level against the struggling Cheetahs. This match is not a top-of-the-table clash, nor will it be played in front of 45000 screaming fans.
“You have to have the same mind-set, it doesn’t matter if you play in front of a cat and a dog. That’s how you play South African teams, a derby is a derby,” Coetzee said.
“You are going to make a big mistake if you underestimate the Cheetahs and think you don’t have to pitch up with the same physical intensity.
“We have played Currie Cups and Super Rugby against the Cheetahs a lot of times and we understand the philosophies and it’s important for us to replicate what we did against the Bulls.” - The Star
Original source: Kitshoff, Eben set for a rest