Stormers, sign up Sonny Bill!
Sport24 columnist JJ Harmse (File)
So Sonny Bill Williams wants to come to Cape Town and maybe play for the Stormers. Very interesting indeed and if I was part of the Western Province and Stormers brains trust, I would seriously consider that.
The way a large section of the Newlands faithful (I cannot call them Stormers supporters, can I?) reacted when Williams visited the Mother City with the Crusaders last year was absolutely astonishing.
Their chanting of his name, the total frenzy with his arrival at the stadium and the absolute show the midfielder gave on the pitch was a real reflection of his star power.
I do not visit Newlands that often, but I cannot recall any Stormers player being welcomed to the stadium in such a way. I wonder why not?
Remember at the time, SBW was still a part-time player at the All Blacks (many would argue that he still is), so to say that his fans were the thousands of All Blacks supporters that frequent Newlands more than any other stadium in the country (bar George maybe) is debatable.
Maybe it was (or still is?) the lack of association those fans feel with the Stormers team, I don’t know. What I do know though is that this is a regional phenomenon that the Stormers must embrace now that they have the opportunity.
SBW’s religious beliefs also speak to a large section of the rugby fans in Cape Town.
In fact, there are very few boxes he does not tick.
Imagine thousands of people waiting for the Stormers bus to arrive while shouting and chanting and clearly showing who they are supporting. Stormers!, Stormers!, Stormers!, Sonny Bill, Sonny Bill!
What a scene it would be! How intimidating to opponents!
There will of course be a thousand or so of Bulls fans at the stadium on the weekend and one will have to wait and see if they have something to shout about.
The Bulls team are in a rebuilding phase, no doubt, but are already showing encouraging signs that they can continue in the great steps of their recent predecessors.
The decision by Stormers coach Allister Coetzee to move Rynhardt Elstadt to the side of the scrum is an interesting one.
Everyone in Cape Town was telling anyone who was prepared to listen last season that the fiery lock was their answer to Bakkies Botha and some even felt that his contribution during Super Rugby was greater than that of the Bulls lock. It was a fair point.
Suddenly though, we are told Eben Etzebeth is the new deal. Bakkies is gone unfortunately, but suddenly Etzebeth is the new Bakkies and not the new Elstadt?
I have no doubt that both are fine players and because they are still in their early years at the top, and will be able to contribute for a long time, to the good of Stormers rugby and that of South African rugby.
I am just curious on what basis Etzebeth has moved past Elstadt without the latter having had an opportunity to continue showing his worth from last season?
How did the "special one" move past the "special one"?
Maybe Saturday will tell us. The physicality of the two special ones (and Duane Vermeulen!) will certainly be a handful for the Bulls and I can only speculate who of the visiting pack will respond best.
Jacques Potgieter is a wild child who does not know fear or how to stop. He has paid his dues in the lower divisions and loves it at the top. His collisions with the Stormers trio will be scary stuff. Read JJ every Sunday in Rapport.
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