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Willemse on the move again

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Manie Libbok will play his 50th Stormers game in the Champions Cup clash with Stade Francais in Paris on Saturday.

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The Round Four encounter at the Stade Jean Bouin will see the Stormers looking to secure their place in the Round of 16.

Libbok reaches the milestone in what is just his third season with the Stormers and will marshall a backline that features several changes from the combination that did duty in the win against Sale Sharks at Stadium last week.

Damian Willemse is in midfield, with Dan du Plessis shifting to outside centre.

Warrick Gelant is at fullback and forms an all-new back three with wings Angelo Davids and Ben Loader, while Suleiman Hartzenberg and scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer are among the replacements.

Hooker Joseph Dweba comes into the starting line-up, as do flank Willie Engelbrecht and No.8 Keke Morabe in the only changes to the starting pack.

Prop Kwenzo Blose and lock Hendre Stassen are also on a replacements bench that features the likes of hooker Andre-Hugo Venter, utility forward Ben-Jason Dixon and loose forward Hacjivah Dayimani.

(Libbok about his half-ton …)

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Coach John Dobson was full of praise for Libbok, who has developed into a world-class player since arriving in Cape Town.

“Manie has been a revelation for us since joining in 2021 and he seems to get better and better. Hopefully, he keeps going from strength to strength in a Stormers jersey.

“We face tough opposition in challenging conditions this weekend, so we will have to step up and show that we can perform away from home to challenge for a place in the knock-out phase of the competition,” he said.

Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 Ben Loader, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Keke Morabe, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Adre Smith, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Sti Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Hendre Stassen, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Stefan Ungerer, 23 Suleiman Hartzenberg.

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Date: Saturday, January 20
Venue: Stade Jean Bouin, Paris
Kick-off: 18.30 (19.30 SA time; 17.30 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Jamie Leahy (England), Mike Hudson (England)
TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)

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