Vodacom Super 14
Coetzee sticks with winners
Johannesburg - The Stormers are in the great position of being able to go into their Vodacom Super 14 semifinal against the Waratahs at Newlands with a stronger team on paper than the one that won the second round game against the Australians in February.
In naming an unchanged side from the one that beat the Bulls 38-10 in the final league game last Saturday, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee pinpointed continuity in selection as one of the keys to his team’s success this season.
“Obviously when you stick with pretty much the same team you give the players a chance to bond together and to grow together as a team,” said Coetzee.
“We are in a good position in that we have had all the players available for selection this week that were available for us in the last game against the Waratahs in February. That is obviously a massive plus for us. Continuity is linked to the success of any team.
“Having the same side play together over a period of time means that each player in the team knows what he needs to do, where he fits into the strategy, and we are very happy to be in a position where we don’t have players out because of injury.”
Indeed, the only player unavailable for this week’s semifinal is versatile reserve prop JC Kritzinger, who has another week to go before he can be considered fully recovered from the calf injury that has kept him out since the last tour match against the Reds four weeks ago.
However, there are players who have returned to fitness since the 27-6 win at Newlands early in the competition, and they do make the Stormers team look stronger on paper. Two of the changes come in the tight five, where the hard-working presence of Adriaan Fondse returns at No4 lock after making a late start to the season following an operation last year.
First choice loosehead Wicus Blaauw also missed the league game against the Waratahs because of injury, while Burger is back to lead the side from the flank after being injured at a relatively early stage the last time these two teams met.
By contrast, the Waratahs have lost two experienced international players in the form of prop Benn Robinson and No8 Wycliff Palu since then.
The solitary Stormers change at the back since February comes at scrumhalf, where Ricky Januarie has fallen out of favour and Dewaldt Duvenage has become the recognised first choice No9.
However, while on paper the Stormers are stronger, Coetzee has warned against reading too much into the team sheet.
“The thing about the Waratahs is that they have improved hugely as a team since our game in the second round, when they were still struggling to come to terms with the new law interpretations and the impact they had on the game,” said Coetzee. Stormers:
15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Jaque Fourie, 12. Juan De Jongh, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Peter Grant, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Francois Louw, 6. Schalk Burger (captain), 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Adriaan Fondse, 3. Brok Harris, 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1.Wicus Blaauw
Substitutes: 16. Deon Fourie, 17. Eusebio Guinazu, 18. Anton Van Zyl, 19. Pieter Louw, 20. Ricky Januarie, 21. Willem De Waal, 22. Tim Whitehead