Vodacom Super Rugby
Gavin Rich - SuperSport
Jean: No more excuses
Johannesburg - DHL Stormers stand-in skipper Jean de Villiers says that last week’s poor performance against the Lions was understandable but that the time for the excuses is now over.
The Stormers clash with the Toyota Cheetahs at Newlands in the second Vodacom Super Rugby match of the season for the Cape team on Saturday afternoon. De Villiers says the visitors are a quality side and that his men will have to make an improvement on their showing against the Lions, when they won in the final five minutes after a mistake-ridden performance, if they hope to win.
“The Cheetahs are an underrated team and maybe aren’t given enough credit for the way they manage to compete year after year, and consistently knock over big teams both home and away, in the Currie Cup,” said De Villiers.
“They do have a couple of injuries, and the loss of players like Juan Smith can really hurt a team like the Cheetahs, but they will start against us with pretty much the side that finished against the Bulls and they were good against the Bulls. We know they will come at us highly motivated to win after two successive defeats.”
The Springbok centre reckons the number of injuries in the derby matches that have characterized the early rounds may be an indication that the new format has made it tougher for South African teams due to the physicality of the contests.
“What I do think is that there won’t be any easy away games within South Africa as both the Cheetahs and the Lions have made big improvements. They are both very well coached and seem determined to do well and to remain competitive through the competition this year.”
De Villiers wasn’t part of the Stormers team that played in the final of last year’s Super 14 as he was playing for Munster at the time. But while he noted the improvement and the energy that flooded through Cape rugby in 2010, he issued a warning that should have allayed fears that the Stormers, after what they achieved 12 months ago, may struggle for the necessary hunger this time around.
“We haven’t achieved anything yet, we don’t have any trophies, and we are very aware of that. We still have some building to do, we still have a lot of room for improvement, and if we didn’t we would have won the competition last year,” he said.
“It is important for us to stick to the processes, to take little steps, to pay attention to detail and to the quality of our allround play. We need to continue channeling everything in the right direction, and in that regard we are on track at the moment.
“We were disappointing last week, none of us were happy with our performance and we know if we play like that again we will be punished. The important thing was that we went through that but still managed to come out with a win.
“What happened last week was that we were a bit nervous and tentative, and it does make a difference when you start your season after your opponents have. No matter how much you talk about it, there is always a bit of concern before the first game about how up for it you are going to be and how everything you work on in training is going to come together.
“But we have that behind us now, we are now into our season, and the time for excuses is over,” he added.