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VIDEO: Revealed - why Bok pulled out of North-South derby

National treasure Frans Malherbe felt a lack of match fitness would be too much of a risk and pulled out of the Stormers team for their United Rugby Championship Round 11 face-off with the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

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Earlier in the week Stormers assistant coach Rito Hlungwani suggested the veteran prop, Malherbe, could be part of the team heading to Pretoria for the North-South derby.

However, when the team was named on Friday the name of the 69-times capped Springbok was missing.

Stormers coach John Dobson said the call was made in the best interest of the player.

“Frans trained nicely the whole week,” Dobson said, adding: “He is a national treasure and we want to manage him properly.”

Captain Deon Fourie revealed that the 32-year-old felt his “game fitness” was not up to it for a trip to Loftus and a #BIG North-South derby.

“He didn’t want to drop the team and felt his fitness wasn’t at that level at the moment,” Fourie said.

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“That is the quality guy he is,” the captain added.

Dobson said leaving Malherbe out is in the player’s own interest.

(WATCH as Stormers coach John Dobson reveals the reasons behind the absence on two-time World Cup-winning Springbok prop Frans Malherbe….)

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“He could have played, but at Loftus in your first game back and Neethling [Fouche] goes off after five minutes, then I don’t think any prop after that length of time off will be ready for that experience,” Dobson told @rugby365com.

“He has had some issues with his neck and as a tighthead prop, it is your future.

“We were not under pressure [to rest him] in terms of the national team.

“Also, Sazi Sandi is a guy we really wanted to give game time to.

“It is a great occasion for him.”

Dobson said he expects Malherbe, who has not played since the World Cup Final in October last year and has been struggling with a long-standing back/neck injury, to be available to play against Edinburgh in a URC Round 12 match in three weeks.

“It is a much more controllable environment.

“He will have two more weeks of live scrums.

“He only did his first live scrum last Friday and it is just too long, having been sidelined since the World Cup.

“He just doesn’t want to drop the team.”

Fourie returns as captain of the Stormers, along with fellow Springboks Damian Willemse and Manie Libbok – after a compulsory rest period.

Neethling Fouche and Sti Sithole are the starting props, with Brok Harris and Sazi Sandi on the replacements bench.

Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Evan Roos, 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 Brok Harris, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Marcel Theunissen, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.

Date: Saturday, March 2
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Griffin Colby (South Africa) and Sean Muller (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

@king365ed
@rugby365com

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