Former Western Province and Stormers star Anton van Zyl’s brother, Chris, will lead a star-studded WP team in their Currie Cup opener against the Blue Bulls at Loftus on Friday.
With the Super Rugby tournament not yet concluded, the Currie Cup opening rounds will take place this weekend, leading to a pile-up of games.
And with the Stormers being knocked out of the Super Rugby competition already, they have the luxury, unlike the Golden Lions, to call on their top stars for the clash against their fierce rivals.
But coach Jon Dobson still believes that even with stars such as Jano Vermaak, Leolin Zas, Jaco Taute, Oli Kebble and a few others available, they will be in for a test at Loftus.
With the Stormers players only joining their camp last week after losing in the quarterfinal of the Super Rugby tournament, the Blue Bulls have had some extra time to prepare for the north-south derby after failing to qualify for the knockout stage of the franchise competition.
Dobson explains: “The season format is a challenge. These guys played a quarter-final – the Golden Lions are going to be playing on Saturday with a “B” team.
“Last season there was a little bit of breathing space in-between – but we’ve had a few days, so it’s a challenge. We couldn’t give the Super Rugby guys a full week off, they joined us late last week.
“That’s tough, because you wanted to give them a full week off.”
Physically, Dobson believes the guys will be up for the challenge.
He adds: “The guys have come back enthusiastic, if you look at our game time schedule, the guys playing Currie Cup aren’t overplayed.
“Guys like Ali Vermaak, Scarra [Ntubeni], Rynhardt [Elstadt] – they all had various injuries or reasons for not playing much, Huw Jones spent a lot of time on the bench.”
“So the stats aren’t too bad.”