Vodacom Super Rugby
Gavin Rich - SuperSport
Stormers in a 'great space'
Johannesburg - They know the Crusaders are going to be a tough team to beat, but the DHL Stormers reckon they are in a great space as they complete their build-up to Saturday’s Super Rugby semifinal at Newlands.
Although the rain fell as they trained on Wednesday, it did not dampen their spirits, and coach Allister Coetzee was satisfied that all the preparations had been done and that no stone had been left unturned in their analysis of the Crusaders and in putting the final touches to their own game.
“The bye that we got by finishing top of the log really helped us,” said Coetzee.
“It gave the guys a much needed chance to rest up after a long league season. The break came at just the right time. You don’t need any extra motivation for a semifinal, we all know this is a massive game and what it means both to ourselves and to our fans, and it was no problem switching on when the guys came back from their week off.
“Everyone is feeling refreshed, everyone is feeling hungry, everyone is eager to play and to give it everything in this last stage of the season.”
Coetzee said the 16-match extended league phase had been “mentally and physically taxing” but that he would wait until the campaign was over and his team and management had done their final wash-up before making a pronouncement on his feelings towards the new format.
“Playing so many derbies was tough, the conference system does make the competition a lot tougher, but if we win the tournament in this format maybe we will decide we love it like this,” he laughed.
Jaque Fourie and Dewaldt Duvenage, two key players in Saturday’s game, have sat out portions of the training this week, prompting speculation that they might be doubtful starters, but Coetzee scotched this.
“As we know Jaque does have occasional problems with his hip flexor and we just felt it wasn’t a good idea to risk him in the cold. It’s the same with Dewaldt,” said Coetzee.
Both players were named in the team when it was announced, with Duvenage returning from a one game absence enforced by an ankle injury.
Although the Crusaders boast more All Blacks in their tight five than the Stormers boast Springboks - five against one, with only Andries Bekker of the home unit having played test rugby - Coetzee says he is confident the pack will acquit itself well.
"The forward play has been an area I have been particularly pleased with this season and what makes me confident about our chances. We boast a lot of continuity in the pack, and while it is a setback for us to lose Duane Vermeuelen, it is a massive help that most of the unit has played together all season," he said.