FNB UCT assistant coach Robbie Fleck believes Tiger Bax’s elevation to the Stormers bench is a great moment for the Varsity Cup competition.
Bax was named on the Stormers bench – to face the Highlanders in Dunedin – earlier in the week in what will be his first taste of Super 14 action.
The 21-year-old Ikeys utility back was on standby for the Stormers earlier in the season – ironically for star flanker Schalk Burger – and was due to sit on the bench against the Bulls in a Round Four encounter in Pretoria.
Burger recovered from his calf muscle injury in time to take his place on the bench, but Bax – who had a superb Varsity Cup campaign for the Ikey Tigers – will now make his Super 14 debut at arguably the toughest venue around; Dunedin’s notorious ‘House of Pain’.
“It’s great for the Varsity Cup competition,” enthused Fleck in conversation with varsitycup.co.za.
“It shows how well the tournament is working and it also shows that this is a serious breeding ground for talented players who want to become professional players.”
Fleck, like Bax, also began playing his rugby for UCT before making the step up to Western Province, the Stormers and, eventually, the Springboks. And UCT’s backline coach said: “Tiger has a wise head on those young shoulders of his, but I am sure he will be a bit nervous – it’s natural.
“He will be playing with and against guys he used to watch on TV and his whole life is about to change,” added Fleck. “Actually, his whole life changed the minute he stepped onto the plane to New Zealand – so much so that he hasn’t even replied to my congratulatory sms yet!
“But seriously, this is a great opportunity for him. Maybe it is a bit early for him… maybe not, but we won’t know until he gets a chance out there on Friday. Either way, let me tell you there is still plenty to come from Tiger Bax.”
The Stormers team: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Gcobani Bobo, 13 Dylan Des Fountain, 12 Peter Grant, 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Luke Watson, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Schalk Burger (captain), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 AJ Venter, 3 Brock Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Morgan Newman, 22 Liam Bax.