Stormers provide big test for Fekitoa - Brown

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Lynn McConnell     27 Apr 2017     Getty Images

The All Blacks centre played at second five-eighths in the win over the Sunwolves at the weekend but is back to his traditional position for the side.


"That's his preferred position and he likes it there. He shuts down a lot of attack there and the Stormers play some pretty good footy so it will be a big night for him," Brown said.

Wing Patrick Osborne will be playing his 50th Super Rugby game for the side.

"When he gets the ball he always keeps it alive and he's dangerous and creates so much play off him. He's been a massive impact for the Highlanders over the last two or three years and he's one of the reasons why we've had a bit of a successful period so we're hoping he's going to have a big one on Friday," he said.

The Stormers had to cope with their travel to New Zealand when they played the Crusaders and the first game was always tough.

"Traditionally the second game is when the South Africans get up and the destroy a few teams. We're well aware of that. We've prepared well this week and we're expecting a pretty tough battle," he said.

Brown said No.8 Luke Whitelock had taken a knock during the Sunwolves game and had woken up on Sunday morning feeling 'a little bit off' so they had taken a precautionary view and would not risk him against the Stormers.

They would miss him, Brown said, because he was a quality rugby player who always prepared well and he was consistent with his performance.

But it did provide the chance for Gareth Evans to come into the side on the blindside of the scrum and for Liam Squire to play No.8.

Flanker Elliot Dixon got out of hospital on Tuesday after his leg infection but they were also not prepared to risk him.

First five-eighths Lima Sopoaga was probably another two weeks or more from returning but Brown was hopeful he would be fit enough to make the trip to South Africa. However, he had been pleased with the job Marty Banks had been able to do in his place.

"He's always been that guy for the Highlanders over the last three years, he never lets us down and his goal-kicking is a big bonus for us," he said.

While the Stormers were likely to have former Highlander Shaun Treeby on the field at some stage, the home team could also reflect on Brown having played for the Stormers late in his career.

It had been good playing in a different region and he had enjoyed his time with the side and took things away from the experience that he still employs today in his coaching.

"They're a lot like New Zealand with their passion for rugby and it was awesome to be part of a South African team over there," he said.