● The Stormers will start their campaign without the considerable presence of lock Eben Etzebeth but will be buoyed by tighthead Wilco Louw’s return to fitness. That he has avoided serious injury is a boost as it has averted a potential crisis in that curiously delicate position. The Stormers’ draw does them no favours with the Jaguares coming to town first up before the team heads for Sydney, Christchurch and Dunedin. The injuries will rob them of the upfront substance that is going to be needed if they want a platform to unleash their evolving game plan.
Coach Robbie Fleck has injected energy and purpose into the Stormers’ attack but his test will be to establish a balance between that aspect of their play and their ability to roll with the punches. The Stormers perennially make the play-offs but that isn’t guaranteed in the revised competition. Some of their stellar staff may make a well-timed return but the Stormers can’t afford to lose ground early.