Springbok Damian de Allende will wear the number 12 jersey for the Stormers in their 2015 Super Rugby opener against the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.
De Allende – who was sidelined with a minor quadricep injury sustained in the Cape Town-based franchise's opening friendly against the SWD Eagles in George two weeks ago – is one of three Springboks in the Stormers’ starting XV, whilst fit-again loose forward Nizaam Carr has been named on the bench to take the squad tally of Boks to four.
In all, there are six Stormers debutants in the matchday squad, three in the starting XV and three on the bench, with wings Johnny Kotze and Dillyn Leyds and tighthead prop Vincent Koch the new faces in the run-on side.
The new faces on the bench are hooker Bongi Mbonambi – who, of course, has Super Rugby experience with the Bulls – tighthead prop Wilco Louw and outside back Huw Jones.
Both Kotze and Leyds are graduates of the WP Rugby Institute and cup-winning DHL WP Under-21 set-ups, with Leyds having had a brief taste of Super Rugby in the colours of the Western Force in 2014.
Skipper Duane Vermeulen will lead the team from the number eight position in a match which head coach Allister Coetzee describes as a “tough assignment” and a “great challenge”.
“It is (a tough assignment) but it’s been done before," Coetzee told the Stormers' official website.
The Stormers will start their season on the Highveld for the third year in a row – having played away to the Bulls in 2013 and the Lions in 2014 – and
Coetzee added: “This is a great Bulls team – jam-packed with Springboks.
“It’s a great challenge for us, but we have prepared well and, most importantly, the players are comfortable in their roles and with their responsibilities in the team and, of course, the expectations placed on them.
“We’re looking forward to getting our campaign underway after a good pre-season and, as everyone knows, there’s no greater challenge than facing the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld – be it your first game or your last game of the season.”
Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom,8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.
Date: Saturday, February 14
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kickoff: 19:10 local (17:10 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Jaco van Heerden, Stephan Geldenhuys
TMO: Johan Greeff