Kobus van Wyk and Dillyn Leyds are on the injury list and their replacements should fit seamlessly into the Stormers’ playing pattern.
Howard, usually a midfielder, made several impressive appearances for Western Province during the last Currie Cup season on the wing, and will have a good understanding with his fellow backliners, according to Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.
“Pat has played wing for us in the Currie Cup and he has been prepared for that position (wing),” Coetzee said at Newlands on Thursday.
“He’s gained more experience playing on the wing.”
The other wing option would have been the Scotland-born Huw Jones, who has had a few outings off the bench this season. Like Howard, he too is a centre, although he’s played on the wing at times when joining the Super Rugby fray as substitute.
“Pat is more accustomed to the (wing) position than Huw, who, yes, is also a centre,” said Coetzee.
“When it comes to Huw, he is really a specialist midfielder who is at home at 12 or 13. He can help out in an emergency, as he did last week against the Force, but he is not comfortable on the wing.
“I would never consider fielding a player in a position he is not comfortable with, in a game like this one.”
Van Wyk and Jones will join up with fullback Cheslin Kolbe in the Stormers’ back three, and as a unit, their role will be crucial on Saturday to the side’s winning cause. Traditionally, the Bulls are fine exponents of the kicking game and the Stormers’ trio can expect a busy afternoon dealing with a variety of kicks from Bulls pivot Handré Pollard, and his halfback partner Piet van Zyl.
“We’ve come to expect that the Bulls will have a kicking plan but we have to be good at the fundamentals, whether it is passing or kicking. The Bulls are coming with a side that has six Springboks in their back division and six more in their pack,” said Coetzee.
“They’re arriving in Cape Town full of confidence and we’ll respect them.”
Coetzee singled out Bulls fullback Jessie Kriel who has brought a new dimension to the Bulls’ attacking arsenal.
“The Bulls have got Jessie and he’s very comfortable with running opposition’s kicks back. He doesn’t just kick the ball back,” said Coetzee.
By midday on Thursday, well over 40 000 tickets have been sold and expectations are that Newlands will be bursting at the seams for this North-South derby. – ANA
Original source: Kotze, Howard ready to tackle Bulls