De Villiers warns Crusaders
Cape Town - While the Crusaders have always run out at Newlands with an air of invincibility, Stormers captain Jean de Villiers has cautioned that his team will not be in awe of the seven-time champions when they host Super Rugby's most decorated team at Newlands on Saturday.
"We have respect for what the Crusaders achieved in the past, but when you hit the grass, it’s you versus them," De Villiers said in the build-up to the match.
"The respect will be there, but at 19:10 on Saturday, that all goes out of the window.”
The Stormers have not shown any signs of uneasiness after their tight five were robbed of the services of powerhouses Tiaan Liebenberg and Steven Kitshoff, and De Villiers felt the pack, as a unit, had been superb. He singled out lock Andries Bekker as the stand-out performer.
"I have to compliment the pack and those who do their jobs around him (Bekker), to maybe free him up a bit and allow him to run with the ball a bit more," the skipper said.
"You need (fellow lock) De Kock Steenkamp to hit 20 to 30 rucks for him (Bekker) to do that, and the pack, as a whole, has done well.
"Hopefully he can just stay fit and we can keep him on the park and get as much game time as we can from him. We have seen how instrumental he has been in our performances."
The Crusaders arrived in the Mother City without three of their stalwarts - Dan Carter, Kieran Read and Richie McCaw - but the tourists have a superb success rate at Newlands, even when fielding substantially weakened teams in the past.
Containing the form of Bekker, according to Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder, would be key to their success.
"We are really confident this young team will step up," Blackadder said.
"He (Bekker) is their talisman and if you can put pressure on him you can pressurise the whole team."