The DHL Stormers’ backline depth has received a boost with the signing of fullback Clayton Blommetjies and centre Chris Hollis.
The duo will both join the DHL Stormers squad for pre-season training ahead of the new Vodacom United Rugby Championship campaign, which kicks off in September.
The experienced Blommetjies has proven himself as an attacking threat throughout a senior professional career of over 10 years, while Hollis is a hard-running 24-year-old midfielder with an imposing presence on both attack and defence.
DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson said that both players will provide important backline depth ahead of a demanding campaign.
“We have all seen what Clayton can do given some time and space on the ball and we are looking forward to seeing how he can add to our attacking game that we have developed.
“Chris is a physical player who has shown plenty of promise, so he will add a competitive edge for us in midfield.
“Both of these players will complement the talent we already have here and will provide important depth in a busy season,” he said.
Blommetjies said that he can’t wait to join up with his new teammates and get stuck into preparations for the new season.
“Watching what the DHL Stormers achieved last season any player would want to be part of that and I feel that my talents can really add something extra within that system, so I can’t wait to get going,” he said.
Hollis said he is focused on taking his game to the next level.
“The players and coaches within the DHL Stormers structures are world-class, so there is no better place for me to grow as a player,” he said.
Timani returns to fitness as Cardiff name side to face Sharks
Lopeti Timani returns to the Cardiff line-up for the opening clash of their BKT United Rugby Championship double-header in South Africa.
With the Blue and Blacks kicking off their tour in Durban against Cell C Sharks on Sunday (KO 4.10pm), Tongan international Timani, who missed the home clash against Edinburgh last month, takes his place in the second row alongside Rory Thornton.
Captain Josh Turnbull will wear the number six jersey, with Thomas Young and James Botham completing the back row, while Rhys Carré, Liam Belcher and Dmitri Arhip form the front row.
Behind the pack Jarrod Evans and Lloyd Williams continue their partnership at half back. Rey Lee-Lo returns to the midfield for the first time since the away win over Scarlets, linking up with Max Llewellyn in the centre.
Finally, having made his URC debut in South Africa last season, Theo Cabango is again given the nod on the wing. Jason Harries occupies the opposite touchline, while Ben Thomas slots in at 15.
Cardiff director or rugby, Dai Young said: “We’re looking forward to testing ourselves against a quality team in the Sharks on Sunday.
“We were disappointed with our last game out here last season so we have plenty of motivation to put things right and we’ve shown we are heading in the right direction and we want to build upon that.
“It is important now that we keep that momentum and confidence and show we have learnt and developed from last season.
“We know what to expect from the Sharks and they are formidable at home but we are in a good place. We will need to perform at our best and if we do that then there is no reason why we cannot make a statement.”
Cardiff have named a six-two split on the bench, with youngsters Ellis Bevan and Mason Grady providing cover for the back-line.
Seb Davies is passed fit to feature, having been on the sidelines since mid-October, while there are further fire-power from the likes of Kristian Dacey, Corey Domachowski and James Ratti.
Cardiff will also take on Vodacom Bulls during their time in the Rainbow Nation, before turning their attention to Europe and the festive derbies.
Cardiff: Ben Thomas; Jason Harries, Rey Lee-Lo, Max Llewellyn, Theo Cabango; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Carré, Liam Belcher, Dmitri Arhip, Lopeti Timani, Rory Thornton, Josh Turnbull (capt.), Thomas Young, James Botham
Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Corey Domachowski, Will Davies-King, Seb Davies, Gwilym Bradley, James Ratti, Ellis Bevan, Mason Grady
Unavailable for selection: Dillon Lewis, Josh Navidi, Taulupe Faletau, Tomos Williams, Rhys Priestland, Owen Lane, Willis Halaholo, Josh Adams, Liam Williams, Matthew Morgan, Jacob Beetham.
Internationals return for Munster interpro at Thomond Park
Six Connacht players who were with the Ireland squad in November have come into the starting lineup for tomorrow’s interpro with Munster in Limerick (k/o 7.35pm).
Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Cian Prendergast, Caolin Blade and Bundee Aki are all named in the starting lineup, as the squad aim to make it three straight wins in the BKT URC.
Denis Buckley joins Heffernan and Bealham in the front row while Josh Murphy is selected alongside Thornbury in the second row. Prendergast is named at blindside flanker, with Conor Oliver at openside and Jarrad Butler at number 8.
Captain Jack Carty continues at out-half while Tom Farrell partners Aki in the centre. The side is completed by wingers Alex Wootton and Byron Ralston, and full-back John Porch.
On the bench there’s a notable return for Shane Delahunt, who has recovered from an 8-month injury layoff for a potential first appearance of the season. The management team have opted for a 6:2 split, meaning Niall Murray, Oisin Dowling and Paul Boyle could all be called upon.
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
“Everyone had ten days off after the Ospreys game which I think was needed for coaches and players. Now that we have everyone back it’s all eyes on Munster for the start of an important ten week block for us, and we’re well positioned for these games going forward.
Munster away at Thomond Park is never an easy task but I thought we were close last year and the previous year we won there. You can’t just rock up to Thomond and think you’re going to win, you’ve got to work your backside off and bring an element of physicality along with accuracy in what you are doing”
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS MUNSTER RUGBY
Saturday 26th November, 19:35 @ Thomond Park
15. John Porch (66)
14. Byron Ralston (6)
13. Tom Farrell (83)
12. Bundee Aki (119)
11. Alex Wootton (37)
10. Jack Carty (184) (C)
9. Caolin Blade (154)
1. Denis Buckley (215)
2. Dave Heffernan (171)
3. Finlay Bealham (173)
4. Josh Murphy (5)
5. Gavin Thornbury (68)
6. Cian Prendergast (33)
7. Conor Oliver (47)
8. Jarrad Butler (100)
16. Shane Delahunt (117)
17. Peter Dooley (5)
18. Jack Aungier (38)
19. Niall Murray (40)
20. Oisín Dowling (31)
21. Kieran Marmion (215)
22. Conor Fitzgerald (57)
23. Paul Boyle (79)
Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby
Porter on debut for DHL Stormers
Lock Gary Porter will make his DHL Stormers debut among a number of changes for the encounter with Scarlets on Friday night.
The Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash with the Welsh side kicks off at 19h00 on Friday at DHL Stadium.
Also making their first starts of the season are centre Cornel Smit, flyhalf Kade Wolhuter and flank Marcel Theunissen, while Leon Lyons, Connor Evans and Jean-Luc du Plessis all come onto the replacements bench.
Ernst van Rhyn will lead the side from alongside Porter in the second row, while Leolin Zas, Joseph Dweba, Sazi Sandi, JJ Kotze and Herschel Jantjies all make their return from national duties.
DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson said that there are quite a few players motivated to make their mark on Friday night.
“The players getting an opportunity this week have all been training incredibly hard all season and are determined to make the most of this game.
“We are pleased with the depth we have built already this season and this is also a side that features plenty of experience in key positions, so we are excited to see how they go,” he said.
Dobson said that given the unavailability of eight players in the Springbok squad, this match presents a perfect opportunity to build capacity in a demanding season.
“This selection forms part of a clear strategy to prepare ourselves to be competitive across the various competitions we are involved in this season.
“We have an exciting young generation of young players coming through and it will be a big challenge for them against a team which boasts almost 300 Test caps, but we are looking forward to it,” he said.
DHL Stormers: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Cornel Smit, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Kade Wolhuter, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Marcel Theunissen, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 Gary Porter, 4 Ernst van Rhyn (captain), 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 JJ Kotze, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Connor Evans, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Nama Xaba, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Jean-Luc du Plessis.
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