Bax and Muller earn their colours
The injury crisis in the Stormers squad has seen Tiger Bax get a first sniff of Super Rugby in the House of Pain last week. Now it opened the door to another Ikey – lock Martin Muller has been moved to the bench against the Chiefs on Saturday after an injury to Andries Bekker.
Muller was a key member of the Ikeys’ Varsity Cup pack for the second season in a row, before his Vodacom Cup commitments with Western Province saw him miss the latter stages of the 2009 competition.
However, the 1.98m tall lock now has the opportunity to make his Super 14 debut at home against the Chiefs on Saturday evening, having also come through the ranks at Bishops Prep and College, WP Schools, SA Schools and SA Under-20.
Ikeys head coach John Dobson was pleased to hear about Muller’s call-up, telling varsitycup.co.za: “I’m really very happy for Martin – he is technically a very good lock with enormous skill and everything that is physically required to go the whole way.
“(But) this year he has upped his physicality and aggression, which is important in someone who is such a nice guy,” added UCT’s coach.
“Of course, it’s also great for UCT, not to mention the Varsity Cup, that we continue to produce players capable of playing at Super 14 level or higher.”
Joining Muller on the Stormers bench is fellow UCT star Tiger Bax, who was an unused replacement during the Stormers’ shock 18-11 win over the Highlanders in Dunedin last week.
Bax is not yet an official Stormers player, having come close to taking the field in Round Four (as the ’23rd man’) and Round 11 (unused on the bench), but he – along with Muller – will be hoping for an opportunity on Saturday against a side lying third on the Super 14 table.
Twenty-one-year-old Bax is a devastating runner and can play almost anywhere in the backline, but he played at outside centre for most of the 2009 Varsity Cup, having also spent time at fullback and flyhalf.
Many believe flyhalf to be his best position, but Bax ran at fullback during pre-season training with the Stormers and played on the wing at Vodacom Cup level for Western Province this year.
The Stormers team (v Chiefs):
15. Conrad Jantjes, 14. Tonderai Chavhanga, 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 (C), 5. AJ Venter, 4. Hilton Lobberts, 3. Brock Harris, 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1. JD Moller
16. Schalk Brits, 17. Wicus Blaauw, 18. Martin Muller, 19. Pieter Louw, 20. Ricky Januarie, 21. Morgan Newman, 22. Tiger Bax