x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Backline stalwarts fit for Stormers' semi-final battle

Gio Aplon and Juan de Jongh have been passed fit to start in an unchanged side for this weekend's Super 14 semi-final showdown with New South Wales Waratahs.

Gio Aplon and Juan de Jongh have been passed fit to start in an unchanged Cape Town Stormers side for this weekend's Super 14 semi-final showdown with the New South Wales Waratahs in Cape Town. Allister Coetzee, the coach, named the same 22 players who were on duty against the Pretoria Bulls last week, despite the back-line pair having missed training yesterday. The tournament enters its knock-out phase on Saturday with the Stormers-Waratahs clash at Newlands due to follow the first semi-final between the Bulls and the Canterbury Crusaders in Soweto.

"At this stage of the competition you're looking for continuity in selection," Coetzee said. "We've kept the majority of our group together and really grown as a unit. There have been losses but we have learned from them as a group." The sides have already met once this season when the Cape Town franchise beat their Australian counterparts 27-6 at the same venue. But Coetzee warned his players to expect a much tougher battle this weekend.

He added: "They are a quality side. Like us, they pride themselves on their line-out and scrum." Meanwhile, on the international stage, Sebastien Chabal, the lock, Alexandre Lapandry, the flanker, and William Servat, the hooker, have been rested by France for next month's tour of South Africa and Argentina. Marc Lievremont, the coach, has decided to rest the trio ahead of next year's World Cup in New Zealand, and said: "There are certain notable absentees as we manage fatigue and game-time issues.

"William Servat has played three seasons back-to-back at a high level and we'd prefer to leave him rest so he can fully benefit from the off-season. It's also the case with Sebastien Chabal, who is suffering with a back problem, and also the case with Alexandre Lapandry." * Compiled by Graham Caygill, with agencies