Stormers to stay focused
Cape Town – The Stormers’ tendency to sometimes follow up an outstanding performance with a mediocre one has been a big talking point in their camp ahead of Friday’s Super 14 match against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Allister Coetzee, coach of the Cape side, realises that the big challenge this week is to ensure that the Stormers pitch with the same intensity as in last week’s 33-21 win over the Blues in Auckland.
“We sometimes disappoint after a good performance by not pitching with the same focus. It’s something we have talked about the whole week,” said Coetzee.
“It was pleasing, therefore, to see the players’ intensity in our training sessions. The manner in which you train is a good pointer to how you will play, and I’m satisfied with the players’ focus.”
Coetzee’s concern is probably rooted in the Stormers losing 17-19 to the Brumbies six days after they thrashed the Waratahs 27-6 earlier in their campaign.
The only other defeat in their campaign – 15-16 against the Western Force in Perth – came in the wake of three successive wins at Newlands.
At that stage the Force were rock-bottom on the log, which again shows that any team can lose to any other in the competition if they don’t pitch mentally.
With the exception of JC Kritzinger, who replaces Argentine prop Eusebio Guinazu on the bench, Coetzee has opted for the same squad as last week.
JD Moller therefore retains his place at loosehead prop after performing well against the Blues.
“JC is more athletic than JD and I believe he will make an impact off the bench,” said Coetzee.
“When JD was injured two years ago, it was a setback for our campaign. I’m glad that he is playing with that kind of confidence again.”
The Chiefs had no option but to make a change in their front row, with 21-year-old Toby Smith set for his first start after Sona Taumalolo sustained a shoulder injury.
At the back the Kiwis look well-equipped even without Mils Muliaina and Sitiveni Sivivatu, but the key for the Stormers will be to exploit their weaknesses up front.
“The set phases are important throughout the competition. We have to scrum well again and be very accurate in the lineouts,” said Coetzee.
“You look for accuracy against attacking sides and cannot give away possession with errors.”
It can be of decisive importance for the Stormers to put pressure on the Chiefs in the lineouts.
“There is no way we can afford to ease up,” said Coetzee.
“The Chiefs have outstanding backs that look for the opportunity to take you on. They try to work a one-on-one and then beat you with skill. Their backs are their strength.”
Chiefs v Stormers, Hamilton - 09:35
15. Tim Nanai-Williams, 14. Lelia Masaga, 13. Richard Kahui, 12. Stephen Donald, 11. Dwayne Sweeney, 10. Mike Delany, 9. Brendon Leonard, 8. Sione Lauaki, 7. Tanerau Latimer, 6. Liam Messam (captain), 5. Culum Retallick, 4. Craig Clarke, 3. Ben Afeaki, 2. Hika Elliot, 1. Toby Smith
Substitutes: 16. Vern Kamo, 17. Nathan White, 18. Romana Graham, 19. Colin Bourke, 20. Junior Poluleuligaga, 21. Callum Bruce, 22. Jackson Willison
15. Gio Aplon, 14. Sireli Naqelevuki, 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. JD Moller
Substitutes: 16. Deon Fourie, 17. JC Kritzinger 18. Anton van Zyl, 19. Pieter Louw, 20. Ricky Januarie, 21. Willem de Waal, 22. Tim Whitehead