A good year for the Boks?
It seems that the Stormers have, at last, realized their potential after winning the 2012 Currie Cup and now after shedding the ‘choker’s’ tag they are set to sweep all before them.
This appears to be the popular view amongst Journalist and Bloggers alike.
I have my doubts, While the Stormers are a side that has consistently fallen at the final hurdle over the previous few years they may now at last have the confidence to go that step further in Super Rugby but this presumes they are in the final of Super rugby, a fairly bold presumption for any team, even the mighty Crusaders.
The biggest obstacle to this “unstoppable” march to glory will always be, of course the other sides.
Whilst stern opposition will be provided by the Chiefs, Crusaders and Reds it is the Domestic tussle that will ultimately have the biggest part to play and let us not forget that the Sharks and Bulls are going to give as good as they get.
The Sharks certainly have the pedigree to Challenge the Stormers and a quick glance at the teams just shows how well matched they are.
The Stormers benefit from a number of Lions Acquisitions but the least fan fair has been about the most important, Pat Cilliers, Cilliers can scrum on both Sides and with Kitchsoff and Libenberg they have a formidable front row. A match at least for the Sharks front row, which, with Bismark back from injury must rank as one of the best on show.
It is clear that Etzebeth and Bekker are probably the best pairing in Super Rugby and they Clearly have the edge over the Sharks come lineout time. The Sharks will hope that Franco Van der Mewe will bring experience to a faltering lineout and paired with the impressive Anton Bressler they may be able to secure more ball than they managed in the Currie Cup final.
The loosies from both sides are immense and it is difficult to say which is superior and both groups of fans will argue that they have the edge, I call the contest even.
Neither side possesses a quality 9 and then at 10 we have the Duel of two top talents, I imagine most neutrals would call that battle even .
A first glance and you immediately go for the Stormers Centers of De Villiers and De Jong but that may be before one considers the possible impact of Frans Steyn, Tim Whitehead and Paul Jordaan will battle it out for 13 but I see the stormers experience playing together as giving them an edge.
The back three for both sides possesses all you need and With Habana gone they now have Taute to sure up at fullback.
My analysis of both teams has them as very even but there are a couple small reservations I have regarding the Stormers. Yes they have acquired the Brilliant Jantjies and Taute who are world class but that does raise some tactical problems. Taute wanted to play 15 and Habana has left so that would mean Aplon to the wing, When I have followed the Stormers I have always Found Aplon better at 15 where his clever joining of the line and angled runs are very difficult to Defend. Playing Jantjies again seems obvious but how will he suit a defensive minded side? Peter Grant isn’t in the same Class but was made for that Stormers style.
Perhaps 2013 is the year of the Sharks? Never can tell but that’s why we love rugby and a Win for either side may spell a resurgent Springbok and please us all.