Lionel Cronje (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – You probably couldn’t blame Lionel Cronjé if he responded somewhat cynically, but on Saturday it may well be his chance to impress Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.
Gary van Aswegen got a tick from Coetzee following his performance in Friday’s 15-0 win over the Lions at Newlands.
Even so, the coach says he would like to use the Stormers’ second match in the Neo Africa Tri-series to further consider his options for the No 10 jersey.
“I’m satisfied with Gary. He played well and gave direction to the play. His kicking out of hand was good. Elgar (Watts) has also done well. I will probably have a look at Lionel and Elgar this week and then make a decision,” said Coetzee.
If it all sounds a little indecisive, keep in mind that the issue is no more than one of depth at flyhalf. Had Peter Grant not been in Japan now, he would probably have started against the Lions alongside the rest of the Stormers’ heavyweights.
While there was a marked lack of intensity, Van Aswegen showed that he can do a job against decent opposition.
“Gary was in our under-21 structures. Lionel has not had enough opportunities and I would like to provide an opportunity for him. The player that grabs his opportunity and makes the best decisions under pressure will be our second choice at flyhalf.”
The match against the Sharks will weigh up last year’s Currie Cup finalists.
The Stormers won the corresponding match in last year’s Neo Africa Tri-series quite comfortably, but were beaten by the Sharks in Durban on a number of important occasions. First there was the Super14 league game, then an important Currie Cup fixture in Durban and then the Currie Cup final.
It remains to be seen whether there will be a little more needle than usual in Saturday’s friendly match as the teams are yet to be picked. Even so, it may well be a good opportunity for a young flyhalf to show what he’s capable of.
Coetzee also gave a number of his young players – among them 18-year-old loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff – game time in the second half against the Lions. It was noticeable that the Stormers did not lose momentum or structure.
The Lions’ inability to score points also shows that the Stormers are maintaining their standards on defence.
“We still take a lot of pride in what we do and that can be seen on defence,” said Coetzee.