Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – The Stormers are well aware of the “flair” tradition associated with rugby at Newlands and want to restore some sparkle, but retaining a winning habit is more important at present.
That is the view of captain and Springbok centre Jean de Villiers, speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday ahead of Saturday’s Super Rugby encounter with the Waratahs at Newlands (19:10 kickoff).
Probed on that theme by Sport24 in the wake of their ongoing drought in four-try bonus points and a particularly dour last victory over the Cheetahs, De Villiers said: “I think we are pretty aware of that (pedigree) ... we are also conscious of the fact that winning is probably more important than the way that you play.
“I take the Bulls as an example: where they were in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They then won the Currie Cup in 2002 (after a lean period) and I don’t know if you guys can remember how they won it: no-one backed them and they had Derick Hougaard
at No 10 and won, away from home, a semi and a final.
“I’m not saying we’re going to revert back to that but, you know, winning is important and I think from a fans and media point of view you’ll always be able to find a negative ... it’s easy to be a critic.
“So to say at this stage that a negative is us not scoring tries but winning, then I think we’re in a good position. A couple of years earlier we would have given anything just to get (several) wins on the trot.
“We’re happy where we are, while knowing we’re not the finished product. As you could see at training, we’re working really hard to put the complete game together – but you need the conditions to be right for that and for the opposition to ‘allow’ it, in a way.
“We are conscious of it ... and we know what the public want, and what we want to achieve.”
De Villiers agreed that a night kickoff against the Waratahs, at a late autumnal time in the Cape where there has been much dew around, was not ideal.
“Exactly – that’s the reality of it. You can plan as much as you want to throw the ball around. I think you’ll all agree that the Cheetahs are quite an expansive team and I didn’t see them throwing it around a lot last Saturday night (in the same kickoff slot).
“So you have to take everything into consideration when you comment on things like that; about scoring tries. And you have to be clever in what you do. It’s not ideal ... probably the ball will be wet, and not ideal conditions again.
“Hopefully the Newlands faithful can stay faithful, stand with us, and hopefully we can give them another win, while upping our performance. As we said last Saturday, we weren’t happy with that performance.”
Coach Allister Coetzee
added: “The sad news is that there is a front on its way and it will be raining. So we’re aware of that.”
He also said he felt the Waratahs had the “best scrumming pack in the competition”, an effective lineout, and were confident in their own ability to score tries from set-piece play. *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing