Springbok Taute makes comeback for Stormers

Jaco Taute replaces Cheslin Kolbe who is on national Sevens duty.

FILE: Stormers player Jaco Taute. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has handed Jaco Taute his first start of the season when they take on the Melbourne Rebels this weekend.

Taute has been side-lined with injury for the entire campaign and replaces Cheslin Kolbe who is on national Sevens duty along with co-captain Juan De Jongh.

Their other co-captain Frans Malherbe is also not available and is replaced by Vincent Koch at prop with veteran Schalk Burger taking over the captaincy.

Fleck says the players have "responded well" to Burger and noted Burger's qualities.

"He is a great leader, a great captain and has been excellent in the past two weeks."

Taute, who has been capped four times by the Springboks, had been recovering from an ankle injury sustained during pre-season.

After losing a number of senior players before the tour, Taute's experience has played a significant role in selection according to Fleck.

"This team needs leadership at the back and someone that can communicate, Jaco can fill that role for us."

Fleck praised Taute's characteristics.

"He is one of those players who is prepared to be thrown in the deep end and fight his way out of a corner, he is certainly the type of character we are looking at for this type of tour."

On the replacements, bench prop JP Smith and utility back Scott van Breda are both in line to make their Stormers debut should they take the field.

They currently sit atop their Conference and are four points ahead of the Bulls after their 31-24 victory against the Cheetahs before the International break.

History is on the Fleck's side as the Stormers have only lost once against the Rebels in their four past meetings while the Rebels are looking to snap a four game losing streak this weekend.

Stormers team to face Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Daniel du Plessis, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Schalk Burger (captain), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.

Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 JP Smith, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 22 Louis Schreuder, 23 Scott van Breda.