Stormers coach Robbie Fleck het nou behoorlik die skapies deurmekaar gejaag in die Chiefs’ kraal by naming Robert du Preez as his starting pivot for today’s Super Rugby quarterfinal at Newlands (7pm).
With regular flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis suffering an injury in last weekend’s match against the Kings, it was expected that his deputy Brandon Thomson would make the step up and run the show against Aaron Cruden this weekend.
But Fleckie opted to go for Du Preez, who was his first-choice playmaker at the start of the season before suffering a knee injury that sidelined him for months.
And this will provide Chiefs coach Dave Rennie with a bit of a headache.
Rennie admitted before they took flight to Cape Town that the Chiefs haven’t seen much of the Stormers this year.
Added to this, they probably wouldn’t have used the Stormers’ first two matches of the season as video analysis, meaning they wouldn’t have done too much homework on Du Preez.
But the pivot has been back to full fitness for a while now and started a few games for Western Province in the Currie Cup.
And while he will relish entering the match as a bit of an unknown entity, Du Preez will be hoping the Chiefs don’t get hold of a recording of last year’s Currie Cup final against the Lions – the last big match he played.
It was arguably one of the 22-year-old’s worst nightmares in that clash and he will no doubt enter the Chiefs match with some inner demons to fight.
But his coach, Fleck, has confidence in his loskakel and says it was the experience gained in the Currie Cup playoffs that ultimately won him the nod ahead of Thomson.
Fleck explains: “It was a big selection for us. Rob has been out for some time, but at the end of the day we went with experience.
“He was the number one choice flyhalf at the beginning of the season and he actually played really well.
“Unfortunately he got injured. He also played in the Currie Cup finals and just edged Thommo in terms of the experience.
“Also, I feel Thommo has played really well off the bench this year. Just to take the pressure off him, I feel that every time he has come off the bench he has performed really well.”
Fleck is also not concerned that Du Preez might carry the scars of last year’s final into the match and of his big match temperament, the coach says: “It’s a big game and I want to take all the pressure off our halfbacks – especially our 10s.
“It is what it is… they’ve been thrown the opportunity now and they have to deal with it.
“They’re playing against a good side and good halfbacks [Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Aaron Cruden], so we need our halfbacks to control the game and we believe all four of the guys can deliver the goods.”