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No Barnard in Stormers’ UK squad

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Barnard, and fellow young gun Schalk Burger, will both turn out for the Renegades, who play the Cats and the Bulls this week, prompting speculation that Smal may well be considering to release Barnard to the Cats' squad before the Super 12 begins.

"I want to see how these props that I have selected for the tour perform," said Smal on Wednesday. "I won't be releasing Pat just yet. I need to know how my propping resources are before I move my depth away."

Faan Rautenbach, who is still recovering from a back injury, did not play against the Bulls last week, while fellow Springboks Daan Human and Cobus Visagie both came off the bench, leaving Barnard to start in the No.3 jersey with Eddie Andrews at loosehead.

Andrews is expected to start at loosehead against the Sale Sharks, leaving Human to come off the bench, with Visagie starting at tighthead and Rautenbach getting some game time.

Smal requested that he be allowed to use 26 players on match-day in order to test all his possible combinations ahead of the Super 12. "The replacements will properly controlled," said Smal, "but I intend on giving all the players a run.

"I even cut down on the number of management staff to take more players on the tour. When we come back from the tour I will assess all the players in the pre-season training squad. At this stage the door is closed to nobody when it comes to Super 12 squad selection."

Smal also mentioned front rower Morné van der Merwe as an unlucky player to miss out on the UK tour, while scrumhalf Neil de Kock is still being wrapped in cotton-wool after picking up a rib injury whilst on Bok duty last year. If an injury were to be picked up by one of the other two scrumhalves on tour – Johannes Conradie and Noël Oelschig – Smal does have the option of flying De Kock over.

Inside centre De Wet Barry was ruled out of the tour earlier this week with a broken nose, but now utility back Werner Greeff also finds himself on the sidelines with a knee injury.

Smal says Greeff will undergo a rehabilitation programme in order to strengthen his knee, but it seems that he could be in danger of missing the Stormers' Super 12 opener against the Sharks on Friday, 21 February.

Young Boland back Piet van Zyl, an unknown to most Cape rugby fans, will replace Greeff in the Stormers' touring squad, after Smal felt it would be right to look within his own catchment area before drafting a back from another South African Super 12 franchise.

"Initially I requested (Boland's) Leon van den Heever," explained Smal. "But he's a key member of Chester Williams' Sevens squad, which is in advanced preparations for the IRB Sevens Series."

Smal told the media that he intends using the Stormers' two-match tour to measure his team against European opposition, to work on certain aspects like forward play and tactical-kicking, and to take the Stormers brand to the UK.

"It's a good opportunity for us," said Smal. "We'll approach the tour with a positive mindset."

The Stormers squad:

Forwards – 17: Daan Human, Cobus Visagie, Eddie Andrews, Faan Rautenbach, Pieter Dixon, Martin van Schalkwyk, Tjoepie van den Heever, Rob Linde, Hottie Louw, Quinton Davids, Selborne Boome, Hendrik Gerber, Pierre Uys, Pietie Ferreira, Corné Krige (captain), Adri Badenhorst, Jaco Gouws.

Backs – 11: Johannes Conradie, Noël Oelschig, Chris Rossouw, Gaffie du Toit, Robbie Fleck, Gus Theron, Piet van Zyl, Pieter Rossouw, Breyton Paulse, Egon Seconds, Lean van Dyk.

Injured players not considered for selection: Werner Greeff (knee), Neil de Kock (ribs), De Wet Barry (broken nose).

Fixtures – kick-off for both games at 19,45 GMT:Tuesday, 4 February: v Sale Sharks, Heywood RoadFriday, 7 February: v Sharks, The StoopThe team departs for the UK on 31 January.

By Howard Kahn

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