Ioane at centre could be weak link, say Stormers

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England international Joe Marchant, who has been playing centre has moved to the right-wing while TJ Faiane has returned to second five-eighths with Harry Plummer dropping back to the reserves. Dalton Papalii will start on the openside flanker with Tom Robinson again on the blindside of the scrum.

 

Stormers coach John Dobson said Ioane's switch from wing to centre was a risk as that sort of change by others had brought with it struggles with the different defensive role required.

 

"Thirteen [centre] is not an easy place to defend. So maybe that could be an opportunity for us. It is what I would like to think. I know it is a cliché, but it is the most difficult position in rugby to defend," SARugbymag.co.za reported.

 

"The problem is that we have to create the space so that he has got to make a decision, which is something we have not done terribly well over the last few weeks. If we are going to play side-to-side rugby or not create the opportunities for our backs, then we are not going to be able to put him under pressure," he said.

With his players aware they have a bye next week Dobson said they wouldn't be holding back against the Blues.

 

"We are going to go full-out, this is a massive game. The Blues always box well here, it is going to be a great game," he told TheStormers.com.

 

"We are going full metal jacket for this one, if we can get five wins from five then I think we are in a very strong position.

 

"They [the Blues] are physical and direct, but they have got some real x-factor as well. It is going to be a classic South Africa-New Zealand game. It is going to be a cracker," he said.

 

Having secured the top of the African Conference, courtesy of their 17-7 win over the Jaguares last weekend, Dobson is expecting his players to excel in the better conditions expected for the game.

 

"We had to grind it out, but I thought our processes and everything were much better. Our breakdowns were superb, our set-piece was solid, ball-retention was good.

 

"Our phase count was higher than last week, we worked hard off the ball. Our conversion rate was poor, but our attack in the conditions was certainly better.

 

"We are the only unbeaten team left in the competition and still not operating at our full potential, but this was certainly a step up for me," he said.

 

Captain and prop Steven Kitshoff said the Stormers wanted to have five consecutive wins which would be a step toward achieving the goals set for the season.

 

"The amount of effort the guys have put in is actually paying off and it's an incredible feeling," he said.

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