Vodacom Super Rugby
'Pick Jean and Jaque'
Leon van den Heever (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - It's going to be a tough call, but Stormers coach Allister Coetzee should revert to the experienced centre pairing of Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie if they are fit to play in Saturday's Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Brumbies in Canberra.
The same applies to the flyhalf position with Peter Grant, though Dewaldt Duvenage did well there after coming on as a replacement for the injured Lionel Cronjé in last Friday's remarkable 28-26 win over the Blues in Auckland.
That is the view of former Stormers utility player Leon van den Heever, who was a hero in 2003 when the Cape side did a similar backs-to-the-wall job against the Waratahs by beating them 39-29 in Sydney.
"It sounds a little harsh (on Juan de Jongh and Johann Sadie), but Jean and Jaque are world class players. They have competed at the highest level," he said.
"I would pick Dewaldt at scrumhalf in any event. He has played a major role in the Stormers' improvement over the past two seasons because he does the basics so well as a scrumhalf.
"What he managed on Friday (slotting in at flyhalf and kicking goals) does not surprise me in the least. Every player competing at that level has talent, but what distinguishes some is simply temperament. Dewaldt is not flashy, but is brilliant at what he does."
The epic nature of the Stormers' victory over the Blues brought back memories for Van den Heever of that remarkable comeback against the Waratahs on Corné Krige's 28th birthday in Sydney in 2003.
In that game the Stormers were down 0-21 just 15 minutes against the star-studded Waratahs. They lost fullback Gaffie du Toit and flyhalf Werner Greeff with injuries during the match.
The resultant reshuffle in the backline produced two very unlikely heroes - Van den Heever and Neil de Kock.
Van den Heever had to go and help out at flyhalf without knowing any of the Stormers' calls, while scrumhalf De Kock moved to the wing.
Van den Heever's cool head and goalkicking was vital, while De Kock showed incredible pace early in the second half to inspire belief in the Stormers that victory was a possibility.
Strange as it may sound, Van den Heever believes the injury crisis actually paved the way for the victory as the Waratahs no longer knew what to expect.
"I moved (from left wing) to fullback after Gaffie was injured and then had to play flyhalf in the second half. I had still joined the Stormers from sevens duty and didn't have a clue about their calls," he said.
"I told Bolla (Conradie) and Fleckie (Robbie Fleck) that we should just play standard moves that we all learned at school. In such a situation the unknown is a big factor in your favour. Your opponent cannot prepare for anything with video footage - especially if there are changes at 10, 12 and 13 (as there was against the Blues on Friday)."
De Kock (32) still plays for English club side Saracens, while Van den Heever (35) is a director at an information technology company in Cape Town.