BULLS 2010
The Bulls did not enjoy a happy time of it in the ten years of the Super 12. They made the play-offs only twice in the decade and lost both semi-finals. They ended in eleventh position twice and came a miserable stone last on the log three times.
But since the Super 12 grew into the Super 14 in 2006, the Bulls have been - with the exception of a disappointing 2008 - one of the premier teams in the competition, finishing fourth, then first, then tenth, and then in 2009 first again. They won finals against the Sharks in 2007 and the Chiefs last year.

They now have the continuity in personnel and pattern of play which must be the envy of many of their rivals. They have established systems which need only to be well-executed to make them strong contenders to win the Super 14 again.
In Victor Matfield and Fourie du Preez they boast two of the most influential players in the world. Add to that the battle-hardened experience offered by stalwarts such as Danie Rossouw, Wynand Olivier and Gary Botha, the boot of Morné Steyn, and the rare brilliance of Pierre Spies, and you have the core of a very formidable team.
There is also a group of capable, solid players to back them up, and emerging stars like Zane Kirchner, Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Heini Adams and Francois Hougaard, complemented by potential bolters such as Stefan Watermeyer and Gerhard van den Heever, to support this leadership group.
The Bulls have developed a winning habit which will stand them in good stead when the going gets tough, as it will, away from home particularly.

Strengths: They start the Super 14 with a game in Bloemfontein and then two in Pretoria, which means they have the opportunity to have gained momentum before they fly to Australasia. They have a strong pack and a halfback pair who can dominate a game. Consistent quality performance will be their key to defending their title

Weaknesses: Poor performances overseas have sometimes over the years ruined the Bulls campaign. This remains a potential issue but with the international experience of the leadership group of players, it is to be hoped that they can avoid a campaign-debilitating four weeks in Australasia. The departure of Habana leaves a mammoth hole to fill. Ndungane has experience and Mametsa is solid, but neither is even remotely the match-winning factor that Habana was. Of course Gerhard van den Heever could come through.

Noteworthy signings: Springbok hooker Gary Botha (returning to the Bulls from London Harlequins), tight-head prop Bees Roux (from Griquas Currie Cup team and Cheetahs in the Super 14), fly half Jacques-Louis Potgieter (Cheetahs), former Springbok Jaco van der Westhuyzen (fly half or full back, from Japanese club NEC Green Rockets). Former Western Province and Stormers stalwart, De Wet Barry is in the pre-season squad and could strengthen the depth at centre. He has played for London Harlequins and the Mighty Elephants in recent years and has 39 Test caps.

Noteworthy losses: The big loss is Bryan Habana to the Stormers. Fly half Burton Francis and utility back Marius Delport (to the Lions), flank Jacques Burger (to Saracens), centre JP Nel (to IBM Big Blue in Japan)

Coach: In Frans Ludeke's first year as Bulls coach they finished a very disappointing tenth on the log, but in his second year his team won the Super 14 in spectacular fashion, scoring a crushing 61-17 victory over the Chiefs in the final, and then went on to win the Currie Cup.

Captain: Victor Matfield is renowned in world rugby not only as one of the great lock-forwards of his generation but also for the intellect he brings to winning line-out ball - on his team's ball as well as in disrupting and stealing opposition ball. As Bulls captain and Springbok stand-in skipper when John Smit is not on the field, he has earned respect internationally as a captain. The Bulls are fortunate indeed to have him in their fold as a lock and their leader.

Potential bolters: Gerhard van den Heever has been earmarked to take over from Bryan Habana on the wing and he has the blistering pace to make the position his own. The 20-year old flyer exudes class and has the potential to become a great finisher and to score many tries for the Bulls. Stefan Watermeyer, a former Blue Bulls Craven Week captain who played two years SA Schools, has played most of his rugby at outside centre but is now playing mostly at inside centre. The 21 year old has the footballing skills to make a big impression if he is given sufficient game-time.

2009 Position: 1st
Best finish: Super 14 Winners in 2007 and 2009
Worst finish: 12th in the Super 12 (1999, 2001, 2002)
Home Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria (Capacity 50,000)

2010 Prospects: The Bulls have the calibre of player, the depth in key positions, the wisdom in leadership, and the experience of winning the really big games, to successfully defend their title. But it will be even tougher than in 2009 since they are now the team to beat - the champions every opposition team will be desperate to knock off their perch.

Bulls squad (provisional): Zane Kirchner, Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Tiger Mangweni, Akona Ndungane, Gerhard van den Heever, John Mametsa, Wynand Olivier, Jaco Pretorius, Stephan Dippenaar, Stefan Watermeyer, Morné Steyn, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Fourie du Preez, Heini Adams, Francois Hougaard, Pierre Spies, Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Pedrie Wannenburg, Derick Kuün, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw, Flip van der Merwe, Fudge Mabeta, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Jaco Engels, Gurthro Steenkamp, Werner Kruger, Bees Roux, Frik Kirsten, Dean Greyling, Gary Botha, Bandise Maku

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Eugene van Wyk, former Bulls coach and now Cheetahs manager, says the Cheetahs should not be aiming merely at being competitive but need to believe they can win the Super 14. His view is that they should be focusing on more than just making the play-offs or, for example, doing better than the Lions - they should focus, he says, on winning the tournament.

How realistic a goal is this?
Last year the Cheetahs finished bottom of the log, winning only two games and scoring 128 points fewer than they conceded. In 2008 they won only one game, conceding 173 more points than they had scored.
Since the Super 12 grew into the Super 14 in 2006, they've ended 10th, 11th, second last and last.
The Cheetahs have a good domestic record but they have battled in the Super 14. They do not have the big budget of the other South African franchises and losing talented players to more lucrative contacts, which depletes the Cheetahs player pool, is an ongoing problem.
In terms of player depth, the Cheetahs are the weakest of the South African Super 14 teams and coach Naka Drotské has to rely on innovation and enterprise - along with making the absolute most of all talent at his disposal - to remain competitive.
A goal of winning the Super 14 seems unrealistic.

Strengths: The Cheetahs have an abundance of youthful talent and they seem somehow to find and nurture backs of skill and flair year after year. In captain Juan Smith they have one of the world's most outstanding loose-forwards - his class and experience as player and flank is a major asset - and in Heinrich Brüssow one of the most feared 'fetchers' playing today. Their front row caused havoc in the 2009 Currie Cup and could create problems for some of their opponents' packs.

Weakness: They have a more limited budget than that at the disposal of rivals, which leads to a loss of players, which leads to a lack of depth in player resources.

Noteworthy signing: Skipper Badenhorst (hooker) has transferred from the Sharks until the end of 2011.

Noteworthy losses: Richardt Strauss (hooker) to Leinster (Ireland). Fly half Jacques-Louis Potgieter and prop Bees Roux to the Bulls.

Coach: Former Springbok hooker and Free State Currie Cup-winning captain Naka Drotské does not have the luxury enjoyed by some of his rival coaches of going out and buying top players to fill gaps in his line-up. He has to make do with fewer resources but is a remarkably resourceful and resilient coach. Assistant coach Hawies Fourie adds value to the acumen of the coaching team.

Captain: Juan Smith is a veteran of 69 Super matches for the Cats and Cheetahs and has 62 Test caps for the Springboks. The 28-year old is regarded as one of the most effective loose forwards in the world, especially subsequent to his stellar performances in the 2007 World Cup. He is an intelligent and inspirational captain.

Potential bolters: The 20-year old Ebersohn twins, Robert (centre) and Sias (fly half), are both graduates of Grey College, Free State Craven Week and SA U20. Robert has also played for SA Schools and SA Sevens. Both are skilful and elusive and can read the game - they offer wonderful flair, and this could be the year they move from being junior stars to exciting performers on the big stage of Super 14.

2009 Position: 14th
Best finish: 10th (2006 - debut year) - and, as Free State, seventh in the 1997 Super 12
Worst finish: 14th (2009)
Home Venue: Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein (capacity 40,000)

Prospects for 2010: Given their exemplary keenness and enthusiasm and determination, the Cheetahs deserve to do better, but while they may well trouble some of the leading teams and score a couple of surprise wins, they are unlikely to be in the frame come play-off time - or even end in the top half of the log.

Cheetahs squad (provisional):
Hennie Daniller, Riaan Viljoen, Danwel Demas, Bjorn Basson, JW Jonker, Robert Ebersohn, Philip Snyman, Wilmaure Louw, Meyer Bosman, Corné Uys, Barry Geel, Naas Olivier, Louis Strydom, Sias Ebersohn, Jongi Nokwe, Lionel Mapoe, Rocco Jansen, Tewis de Bruyn, Sarel Pretorius.
Kabamba Floors, Frans Viljoen, Ashley Johnson, Francois Uys, Davon Raubenheimer, Juan Smith, Heinrich Brüssow, Hendro Scholtz, Frans Viljoen, Wesley Wilkens, David de Villiers, Jacques Lombard, Izak van der Westhuizen, Nico Breedt, Rudi Mathee, Waltie Vermeulen, Kobus Calldo, Ruaan du Preez, WP Nel, Hans Grobler, Ryno Barnes, Adriaan Strauss, Albertus Buckle, Coenie Oosthuizen, Wian du Preez.

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LIONS 2010
In the 2009 Super 14, the Lions finished twelfth, winning only four matches, and in the process conceding 419 points, by some way the worst defensive record of any team.
In the last four years of the Super 12 they ended eleventh twice and a dismal stone last twice. Since the advent of the Super 14 in 2006, they've finished 13th, 12th, 14th and 12th in respective years.
They've made Super Rugby play-offs only twice, losing their semi-finals in 2000 and 2001.
Can new Director of Rugby Dick Muir change the fortunes of the Lions? Can he succeed where accomplished coaches like Laurie Mains, Tim Lane and Frans Ludeke, who have achieved great success elsewhere, struggled to make headway?
The Lions are under pressure to make an impact on the Super 14 and to cease being among the easiest prey for all and sundry. Muir speaks of the workrate and enthusiasm which has characterised pre-season preparation, but in the Super 14 sound work ethic and keenness to perform creditably can take a team only so far.
Will they perform well under the sort of sustained pressure they will experience in every 80-minute encounter? Can they win matches in the intensity of top-flight competition?
Whether they have the core of players who can perform at consistently high standard through the Super 14 is a moot question.
They have five Springboks in their ranks, but Heinke van der Merwe, Jannes Labuschagne (will he play all season or will he retire again?), Lawrence Sephaka, Earl Rose and Henno Mentz are all peripheral to Springbok plans at best - and some of them out of the Bok picture.
Of the potential kingpins, Cobus Grobbelaar is one of rugby's unsung heroes, a perpetual motion flank with an exceptional workrate, but Jano Vermaak has injury problems, and Willem Alberts and Louis Ludik are determined to transfer to the Sharks, despite legal issues.
The acquisition of veteran flyhalf Carlos Spencer is a coup. If he can be the talisman for whom the Lions have been searching, he could spark something special.

Strengths: An experienced, intelligent coach who enjoys credibility among the players and in Carlos Spencer one of the world's great playmakers. A captain who leads by example like few others. Enthusiasm and work ethic.

Weakness: Playing personnel. They just do not have the calibre of players and the depth to match most opposition teams.

Noteworthy signings: Carlos Spencer, a veteran of 35 Tests for New Zealand (scoring 291 points), played in the Super 12 for the Blues 1996-2005, scoring 608 points. He has been playing for Northampton Saints and then Gloucester in England. He is a wonderfully skilful footballer - but at 34 can he still perform at this level? Springbok wing Tonderai Chavanga (from the Stormers) - electrifyingly quick but injury-prone. Blue Bulls flyhalf Burton Francis and utility back Marius Delport; Emerging Springbok centre Deon van Rensburg (Leopards). From Western Province: George Earle (lock) and Hanyani Shimange (hooker). From the Leopards they have locks Draad Linde and Ryno Landman and flank Thabo Mamojela, and from the Pumas captain and hooker Hannes Franklin and lock Marius Coetzer - but these Leopards and Pumas players may not make the Super 12 squad. Unfortunately for the Lions, Springbok flank Wikus van Heerden does not return from Saracens until 1 July.

Noteworthy losses: The huge loss is Springbok centre Jaque Fourie to the Stormers after an arbitration decision that his contract with the Lions was not binding. Willem Alberts and Louis Ludik have spent the pre-season with the Sharks but have not been granted clearance by the Lions - another contract dispute. Lock Gerhard Mostert (Sharks), Dewald Senekal (Toulon, France), André Pretorius (Western Force), Willie Wepener (Clermont, France), Ernst Joubert (Saracens, England), Ethienne Reynecke (Saracens, England).

Coach: Eugene Eloff was summarily dismissed last year and Dick Muir given a three-year contract as Director of Coaching. After captaining the Sharks, Western Province and the Stormers, and playing centre for South Africa, he has achieved success as Sharks coach and Springbok assistant coach. He has the experience and acumen to get the best out of any team, but with the Lions perhaps he needs a magic wand as well. His assistant coaches are Hans Coetzee, who coached the Lions in the 2009 Currie Cup after Eloff was fired, and former Bok lock Johan Ackermann.

Captain: Cobus Grobbelaar is renowned for his phenomenal workrate and consistent effectiveness as a flank. He has been unlucky never to have played for South Africa, since many players of lesser ability have been awarded Springbok colours over the years. A veteran of 90 provincial games, he has 57 Super caps. Muir describes him as "a proven world class captain".

Potential bolters: Props Gert Muller (23) and JC Janse van Rensburg (just turned 24), could make their mark this year. Van Rensburg played for the SA U19 team which beat New Zealand in the final of the 2005 world championships. Muller has played 14 Super 14 games and Van Rensburg has 13 Super caps. Heinke van der Merwe will be the cornerstone of the front row but these two are real prospects.

2009 Position: 12th
Best finish: 3rd in 2001
Worst finish: 14th in the 2008 S14; 12th in the S12 (1998, 2003, 2004)
Home Venue: Coca-Cola Park (Ellis Park), Johannesburg (capacity 62,000)

Prospects for 2010: Despite one's faith in Dick Muir, it is difficult to conceive the Lions making it into the top half of the standings.

Lions training squad:
Fullbacks: Earl Rose, Michael Killian (or wing)
Wings: Dusty Noble, Henno Mentz, Tonderai Chavhanga, Wigan Pekeur, Shandre Frolick
Centres: Justin St Jerry, Rouan Cloete, Walter Venter, Deon van Rensburg, Doppies la Grange (or scrum half)
Flyhalves: Carlos Spencer, Burton Francis, Herkie Kruger
Scrumhalves: Jano Vermaak, JP Joubert, Alex Koch, Chris Jonck, Alistair Siegelaar, Doppies la Grange (or centre)
Utility backs: Jannie Boshoff, Alwyn Hollenbach, Bernardo Bitha, Trompie Nontshinga, Wandile Mjekevu
Props: Heinke van der Merwe, Gert Muller, JC Janse van Rensburg, Lawrence Sephaka, Kevin Buys
Hookers: Hans van Dyk, Hannes Franklin, Hanyani Shimange, Derek Harwood, Charles Enslie
Locks: Jannes Labuschagne, Jacques Lombaard, Wouter Moore, Franco van der Merwe, Willem Stoltz, George Earle
Loose forwards: Cobus Grobbelaar, Jonathan Mokuena, Derick Minnie, Todd Clever, Thabo Mamojela, Danie Crous
Utility forwards: Nico Luus, Johan van Deventer
Plus: Marius Delport, Earl Lewis, Jody Rose, Pieter Engelbrecht, Marius Coetzer, Ryno Landman, Draad Linde, Ruan Boshoff, Divan Kotze, Johan Jackson, Warren van Rooyen, Wayne Swart, Ross Geldenhuys, Charl de Plessis, Johan Snyman, Jeffrey Taljaard, Robert Kruger, Thuliphatu Marole, Warren Whiteley, Justin Wheeler, Stephan Kruger, Mina Nassif
(Willem Alberts and Louis Ludik are training with the Sharks but have not been granted clearance by the Lions)

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The Sharks have come close to winning both the Super 12 and Super 14 over the years, but have not yet managed to win the championship.
They lost two Super 12 finals and two semi-finals, and in the four years of the Super 14 have lost a final and a semi-final.
They've ended consistently in the top half of the log (fifth, second, third and sixth) since the Super 14 started in 2006 but while they have looked capable of going all the way, they have never managed to fulfil that promise.
Springbok skipper John Smit, reappointed Sharks captain for 2010 after playing under Johann Muller and Stefan Terblanche in 2008 and 2009, sums it up neatly when he says the Super 14 is a tough competition, where teams have good weeks and bad weeks.
"You just have to make sure you have more good weeks than bad weeks and you will find yourself in a semi-final," says Smit.
There is no doubting the expertise inherent in a campaign run by John Plumtree and John Smit and the skills level of the players is excellent. Both coach and captain have the battle-hardened rugby background and intellectual acumen to prepare their team with insight and there will be no lack of inspiration either.
There is a good balance of experience and youthful talent. Smit, Muller and Terblanche, as well as Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Ryan Kankowski, Ruan Pienaar, Adrian Jacobs, Odwa Ndungane and JP Pietersen, have all made their mark at Test level, and potential future stars like Alistair Hargreaves, Patric Cilliers, Craig Burden, Steve Meyer and Patrick Lambie are champing at the bit to play big rugby.

Strengths: "We have quite a large number of players who know what it takes to get to a play-off," says Smit. It's a well-balanced team, in terms of both talent and depth, in the pack as well as among the backs.

Weaknesses: With Springbok utility back Ruan Pienaar still recovering from pre-season surgery and Argentinean flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez out of the Super 14 with a back injury, the No.10 position is a potential weakness. Steve Meyer has been released by Perpignan to join the Sharks, and Monty Dumond, Guy Cronje, Len Olivier and utility back Patrick Lambie are all players of whom much is expected in future, but are they ready for the demands of playing flyhalf in the Super 14 right now? Does the backline as a whole have sufficient penetration on attack to set up and score tries? Also, the loss of Springbok utility back Francois Steyn to Racing-Metro leaves a huge gap because there are few players in the world with his match-winning ability.

Noteworthy signings: Flyhalf Steve Meyer played for the Sharks before joining Perpignan three seasons ago, where injuries curtailed his career. From the Lions: Gerhard Mostert (lock) and Willem Alberts (eighth man or flank) and Louis Ludik (fullback) - the last two if they succeed in getting the requisite clearance certificates from the Lions. Alberts, in particular, is highly regarded by teammates and opponents.

Noteworthy losses: The big loss is that of Francois Steyn to Racing-Metro (Paris). He is close to being a one-of-a-kind player, nigh impossible to replace. Skipper Badenhorst is on loan to Cheetahs, but with Craig Burden as back-up to John Smit and Bismarck du Plessis, the Sharks could happily afford to allow him to move to Bloemfontein where he is likely to get more game-time.

Coach: John Plumtree labelled reports that had applied to take over from Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper at the end of the year as totally inaccurate and has committed himself to the Sharks. With an impressive coaching pedigree including five years with the Wellington Lions in New Zealand, Plumtree has impressed players with his extensive experience, comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of rugby, and his astute approach to planning the campaign and for each game.

Captain: In 2008 and 2009 the Sharks view was that because John Smit's commitment to the Springboks was so demanding, it would be advisable, in order to facilitate continuity, to appoint another player as Super 14 and Currie Cup captain. Their perspective on this has changed and Smit, captain of the Sharks from 2001 to 2007, has been reappointed. He has 93 Test caps and has played 159 games for the Sharks, 98 of them in Super 12 or 14 matches. Many players and coaches internationally would rate him the best captain in world rugby.

Potential bolters: Former SA U19 world championship-winning captain Alistair Hargeaves was a surprise selection for the Springboks November tour but one of very few players to enhance his reputation in the Boks two midweek defeats. Now 23, he struggles for game-time at the Sharks, competing with Muller, Sykes and Van der Berg, and now Mostert, for lock selection, but he may just be a future Springbok captain. Patrick Lambie made his Sharks debut at age 18 last year. A fullback, flyhalf or centre, he played SA Schools in 2007 and 2008. He does not turn 20 until October, but is a class act who looks set for a stellar career.

2009 Position: 6th
Best finish: Runners-up in 1996, 2001 and 2007
Worst finish: 12th in 2000 and 2005
Home Venue: Absa Stadium, Durban (capacity 54,000)

2010 Prospects: This may turn out to be a less than vintage year for the Sharks, but never bet against the men from Durban making the play-offs!

Sharks squad (provisional):

Forwards: Willem Alberts, Jacques Botes, Craig Burden, Deon Carstens, Patric Cilliers, Keegan Daniel, Jean Deysel, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Alistair Hargreaves, Ryan Kankowski, Gerhard Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Johann Muller, John Smit and Steven Sykes, Albert van der Berg. Backs: Monty Dumond, Adrian Jacobs, Rory Kockott, Patrick Lambie, Charl McLeod, Steve Meyer, Waylon Murray, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Ruan Pienaar, Andries Strauss, Riaan Swanepoel, Stefan Terblanche and Luzuko Vulindlu.

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The Stormers so often flatter only to deceive. Too often they have promised much but in the end delivered little.
As Western Province they have not won the Currie Cup since 2001, and in the four years of the Super 14, the Stormers have finished eleventh, tenth, fifth and tenth on the log. Only in 2008 did they manage to score more Super 14 points than they conceded.
There were high hopes for them last year but they won only five games, scoring 14 points fewer in total than they conceded. They conceded fewer points in total than 11 other teams, but just couldn't put sufficient points on the board to win more games.
They reached the play-offs twice in the Super 12, losing their semi-finals in 1999 and 2004, but except for 2008, have not come close to playing in a semi-final again.
All that notwithstanding, their squad boasts the calibre of players and the depth in player reserves for them to be one of the leading teams in the 2010 Super 14.
In Schalk Burger, Bryan Habana and Jaque Fourie they have three of the most respected players in international rugby as the core of the team. They have a big group of talented players around them, with a good balance between experienced campaigners and young players of real potential.

Strengths: A balanced team, with forwards capable of winning sufficient possession for a backline loaded with attacking skills. Tight defence. A range of attacking options, with strong-running loose forwards, quality midfield backs and a potent back three.

Weaknesses: Not winning big games. They had their Currie Cup semi-final pretty much sewn up in October before blowing it at the death. They lost Super 14 matches last year that were there for the winning. Will their tight five sustain the progress they've made in the past couple of years since they were disparagingly referred to as the 'light five'?

Noteworthy signings: Two of the top backs in world rugby: from the Bulls, left wing Bryan Habana (57 Test caps) and from the Lions, centre Jaque Fourie (54 Test caps). From the Cheetahs: fly half Lionel Cronje and wing Fabian Juries. Argentinean international tight-head Eusebio Guińazú.

Noteworthy losses: 2009 Stormers captain and Springbok centre (55 Tests) Jean de Villiers to Munster; centre Gcobani Bobo to Newcastle; prop Brian Mujati to Northampton Saints; loose forward Luke Watson to Bath; hooker Schalk Brits to Saracens. Springbok veterans Percy Montgomery and AJ Venter have retired.

Coach: Western Province senior professional coach Rassie Erasmus has appointed Allister Coetzee as Stormers head coach. His assistants will be Robbie Fleck as backline coach and Matthew Proudfoot as forwards coach. Coetzee was assistant coach to Jake White through his four years as Springbok coach, including at the 2007 World Cup.

Captain: With Jean de Villiers having transferred to Munster, Schalk Burger has been appointed captain. The SA and IRB Player of the Year in 2004, the 26-year old Burger has played 60 Super games for the Stormers and in 55 Tests for the Springboks. He says that as captain his approach is to lead by example, but he is more cerebral than may appear obvious and his astute reading of the game should not be underrated.

Potential bolters: Dewaldt Duvenage may be diminutive but he is durable and resilient, playing in 10 matches for the Stormers and 15 for Western Province in 2009. He displaced Springbok Ricky Januarie as first-choice scrumhalf and has shown special skill both in his kicking game and his distribution. He reads the game astutely. Juan de Jongh graduated from club rugby to Western Province last year and did so well that he was selected for the Springboks November tour, where he played in the two midweek games. A small but strong centre (comfortable at 12 or 13), he is regarded as a particularly bright prospect. Duvenage and De Jongh are both 21 years old.

2009 Position: 10th
Best finish: 2nd in 1999 (lost in semi-final)
Worst finish: 11th in 1996 (Super 12) and 11th in 2006 (Super 14)
Home Venue: Newlands, Cape Town (capacity 49 000)

2010 Prospects: On the basis of the progress they made (as Western Province) in the Currie Cup, and with the recruitment of superstar backs Bryan Habana and Jaque Fourie, this could just be the year the Stormers finally fulfil their promise to be in the frame come the play-offs.

Stormers squad (provisional):
Props: Wicus Blaauw, Brok Harris, JD Moller, JC Kritzinger, Eusebio Guinazu
Hookers: Tiaan Liebenberg, Deon Fourie
Locks: Andries Bekker, Anton van Zyl De Kock Steenkamp, Adriaan Fondse
Loose forwards: Schalk Burger, Francois Louw, Duane Vermeulen, Pieter Myburgh, Pieter Louw, Jacques Potgieter, Hilton Lobberts
Scrum halves: Dewaldt Duvenage, Ricky Januarie, Bolla Conradie
Fly halves: Peter Grant (or centre), Willem de Waal, Lionel Cronje
Centres: Jaque Fourie, Juan de Jongh, Frikkie Welsh, Dylan des Fountain, Morgan Newman
Wings: Bryan Habana, Gio Aplon, JJ Engelbrecht, Sireli Naqelevuki, Fabian Juries, Nick Koster
Full backs: Joe Pietersen, Conrad Jantjes
(Fondse, Jantjes, Koster, Des Fountain, Newman are all recovering from injury)