Rugby

Stormers blessed at No 10

2011-12-08 14:04
Allister Coetzee (Gallo)
Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer 

Cape Town – The Stormers, semi-finalists and best performing South African franchise in last year’s Super Rugby, have named a 53-strong pre-season training squad marked by a near-embarrassment of riches in the flyhalf spot.

It is an ironic situation considering that last year they had to scrape the barrel or improvise at times in the face of a dreadful spate of injuries in the position – first-choice scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage even did duty with occasional success there when the crisis was at its peak.

The enlarged group was named on Thursday on rugby website www.Rugbyweek.com with the proviso that it was “not finalised and players may be added at any time”.

But it did give some early pointers as to how the Stormers, SA conference winners in 2011, may look in the key area of positional depth, bearing in mind that Super Rugby will run an unusually long calendar course next year.

Quickly apparent is that No 10 ought not present such snags this time around: the cupboard is brimful of proven first-class competitors in the influential slot.

The globe-trotting Springbok Peter Grant is back in the mix and will arguably be first choice again once freed from Japanese commitments, and additional options will include prolific Currie Cup place-kicker Demetri Catrakilis, fit-again Gary van Aswegen and Kurt Coleman, plus Burton Francis and Joe Pietersen.

The last-named two are Cape products who have spent time elsewhere of late – Francis for the Lions and Bulls and versatile Pietersen in France – but return to their roots for the 2012 season.

Pietersen has often turned out at flyhalf for the Stormers/WP before and was a much-improved goalkicker before his departure for Bayonne, although the Stormers may well employ him more commonly among the back three in the Super Rugby campaign.

Allister Coetzee’s charges are rather less blessed in some other positions, including lock, where further injury setback to pedigreed Andries Bekker – almost certainly Victor Matfield’s intended successor as Springbok lineout kingpin -- would be a blow of note.

They will be able to field up-and-coming No 4 lock Rynhardt Elstadt, who missed the entire Currie Cup after making solid strides as an “enforcer” in Super Rugby, but there is a lack of proven first-class quality in their remaining second-row stock – even if there are high hopes down the line for rookies Quinn Roux and Eben Etzebeth, both of whom feature in the training group.

There are plenty of reasonably decent props in the mix, although the Stormers continue to lack at least one top-notch scrummager or gnarly ball-carrier of current international repute.

They could also be in trouble in midfield if either of Jean de Villiers or Juan de Jongh succumbs to long-term injury, especially as they have controversially dispensed with the services of Jaque Fourie, Johann Sadie and Tim Whitehead.

Grant, of course, could offer solutions at inside centre if required.

The squad named does not include at this stage former Sharks and Bok veteran Adi Jacobs, whose name had been linked with the Cape outfit recently.

Another area where the Stormers could come a cropper, if captain Schalk Burger unexpectedly needs any time out of their plans, is in the fetching role.

The departure of Francois Louw for Bath probably means Burger is going to have play more “to the ball” again, although Namibian World Cup open-sider Rohan Kitshoff remains in contention and there is also Nick Fenton-Wells, who earned maiden Currie Cup exposure last campaign, to consider.

The Stormers coaches and administrators are very eager to bang the drum of how blessed they are with talent in (or just out of) the under-21 ranks, yet more cynical supporters of the trophy-shy franchise might argue with reason that for every step forward in the vicinity of Newlands, there are always one or two backwards as well, as valuable established stars like Louw, Sadie, Fourie and Anton van Zyl seek greener pastures ...

NEXT ON SPORT24X

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
54 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 

3 sports games you have to watch this weekend

Whether it’s date night or a braai with buddies, plan around these three exciting sporting games!

 
 

Men24.com

How to maintain your mo, bro
Hottie of the day: Colette
Pro-skater Tony Hawk rides a hoverboard!
10 ways to drive her wild!
 
 
/Sport
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Featured

Got something you'd like to get off your chest? Got a burning desire to air an opinion? If so, be sure to sign-up on Sport24's FORUM!

Latest blogs
Vote

The five candidates for the IRB World Rugby Player of the Year have been revealed. All bias aside, who deserves the award this year?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.