The old cliche that a rugby game is won up front could not be more fitting than ahead of tomorrow’s match between the Stormers and the Crusaders in Christchurch (9.35am).
With seven out of their eight forwards having already represented the All Blacks, the Crusaders have won all of their Super Rugby matches to date, bossing teams up front before unleashing their young backline stars.
Among those seven stars are Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Sam Whitelock and Scott Barrett.
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck, meanwhile, decided to rest his captain Siya Kolisi for the clash this weekend with lock Eben Etzebeth leading the team.
With Kolisi out, Fleck shifted lock Pieter-Steph du Toit to the side of the scrum, with Chris van Zyl coming in at lock.
It’s a clear indication that the Stormers are looking to bulk up for the clash and try to upset the Saders’ rhythm in the set pieces.
In another change to their pack, Springbok prop Frans Malherbe, who had a tough time in the scrums against the Lions drops to the bench, with the impressive Wilco Louw starting again.
Among the backs, Jano Vermaak makes way for Dewaldt Duvenage at scrumhalf, while fullback SP Marais has been ruled out because of injury.
Dillyn Leyds takes over from Marais in the No.15 jumper, with Bok Bjorn Basson coming in at the wing.
Of the upcoming clash, Fleck says: “We have put some good plans in place and have trained well this week.
“So the players are all looking forward to getting out there and showing what they are capable of.
“We know that we face an unbeaten team on Saturday, so this will be a great opportunity to test ourselves and see where we are as a group.”
While the foundation will be laid up front, both teams sport a number of exciting rookies in their respective backlines and could run wild if the forward battle is already won.