Stormers hit intensity button
Johannesburg - Stormers coach Allister Coetzee adopted a different approach to his former Springbok management colleague Jake White during the break from Vodacom Super Rugby for the June internationals.
According to the supersport.com website, while White had his Cell C Sharks players play club rugby in the last weeks of the break so they don’t hit the remaining phase of the season cold, Coetzee’s players haven’t played in any matches since the win over the Sharks in Durban on the last day of May. The only players to see action in June were the Springboks.
However, the Stormers shouldn’t expect to take any cobwebs into Saturday’s big derby match against the Vodacom Bulls at Newlands as in the two weeks back in training after the taking the first two weeks off, the Stormers have been steadily upping the intensity in training.
“We did have some momentum before the break, winning our last few games in succession, but I felt the players needed to have proper time off away from rugby,” said Coetzee.
“Someone like Nizaam Carr has really thrown his body into the fray this season and he needed to rejuvenate. The break was a mental one as much as it was physical. But because they had a break, the players have worked really hard since coming back and you would have seen today that the intensity in training was really great. Having Schalk Burger and Siya Kolisi back from the Boks had the effect of lifting the training intensity even further.
“I didn’t ask the players to play club rugby. I am not sure if you can get prepared for Super Rugby playing at that level, and I prefer to effect game simulation within the squad, and we have been doing a lot of that. The guys have been getting stuck in so I don’t think they will be lacking in readiness for contact this weekend.
“We can’t win the competition, but we want to finish off the season strongly and hopefully carry some momentum into the Currie Cup, like we did last year. The Bulls match is always a massive one regardless of log position, and 35 000 tickets have already been sold for the game so that reflects the interest that there is. So it’s quite exciting to be part of this game.”
Given how hard he has worked this season, it wasn’t surprising to see that big No 8 Duane Vermeulen was sitting out training on Monday afternoon. The Bok has carried a heavy load this season after playing all the games he was available for in Super Rugby and then playing every game the Boks played in June. That is the way that Coetzee has been managing Vermeulen over the past few months – resting him during the week so he can give it a full go in the match.
By contrast, Burger has been on and off the field for much of the year, so the fact that he played a full 80 minutes for the Boks against Scotland was a positive from Coetzee’s viewpoint. And Kolisi, who hasn’t been in form this year, is also starting to show signs of lifting his effort level.
“Everyone knows that Siya hasn’t been in form, but I am pleased with the commitment he has started to show just recently and I think it is starting to come right for him,” said Coetzee.
Kolisi will probably play off the bench this week, as Carr has nailed down the openside flank spot as his and Burger these days wears the Stormers No 7. Deon Fourie, who also has played looseforward this year, is back from injury but is likely to be one of the two hookers on Saturday.
Scarra Ntubeni is still out injured and won’t play again until the Currie Cup season, while Mike Willemse, excellent against the Sharks last time out, has been set back by an injury that has made him unavailable for the Bulls game. However Springbok Tiaan Liebenberg is back and was doing a lot of throwing at the lineouts in training on Monday.
With Eben Etzebeth ruled out of the remaining games because of a broken toe sustained at home, the freakish Stormers injury situation probably warrants another glance. These are just some of the players who could realistically be in a first choice match day squad out injured at present: Jean de Villiers, Damian de Allende, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Steven Kitshoff, Brok Harris, Ollie Kebble, Rynhardt Elstadt, Scarra Ntubeni, De Kock Steenkamp.
However there are players coming back into the system this week from injury, with Burger, Liebenberg and Fourie being joined by Gio Aplon and Kobus van Wyk among the players who weren’t available for the last match the Stormers played against the Sharks.