Big chance for Van den Heever

2012-05-23 16:06

Cape Town - Gerhard van den Heever has operated a little below the radar for the Stormers since his switch last summer from Loftus.

Opportunities for the baby-faced former Bulls flyer have been mostly restricted to varying bursts off the bench this season, with the log-topping franchise regularly favouring a back three of Bryan Habana, Gio Aplon and Joe Pietersen.

Van den Heever has never looked especially influential, nor glaringly inept whenever given game-time, doing his “basics” solidly and being part of a game-plan that does not consistently facilitate sparkling wing play.

But now he is rather catapulted into the starting spotlight in Super Rugby once more with the news that Pietersen, a standout Stormers performer at fullback thus far, will miss Saturday’s big derby against the Sharks at Mr Price Kings Park (19:10 kickoff) through a back strain.

The fleet-footed Aplon shifts to No 15 and Van den Heever comes in at right wing in a back three that is now a bit less vertically challenged than before, however collectively slippery and skilful the first-choice trio may be.

And the Affies-educated replacement at No 14 earned an unreserved vote of confidence from captain Jean de Villiers at Wednesday’s media briefing.

“He’s a big guy (100kg and 1.90m - Sport24), quite physical and helluva fast for his size, so I think he’ll bring that sort of go-forward we want from the back,” De Villiers said.

“We’re up against two wingers for the Sharks who have done really well ... JP (Pietersen) is also a big fellow and Gerhard will be opposite Lwazi (Mvovo) so it’ll be a good battle there.

“He’s worked really, really hard since coming back from tour; lost a couple of kilograms and put in extra work ... he’s just waiting for this chance. Now it’s just for him to go out and perform and take that opportunity.”

Van den Heever may only have this fixture to try to nail down a more regular starting berth, because coach Allister Coetzee said he expected Pietersen to be fit again in time for the challenge of the Bulls at Loftus a week on.

“I’m very comfortable with the (adjustment) and it won’t change the way we play. With Gio and Joe there are systems at fullback which we look at, but it depends on their decision-making to play a bit off the cuff; what they see.

“Gio might make some different decisions to Joe at certain areas on the field and we really encourage them to have a go if there are opportunities on counter-attack, particularly.

“Players also know they have jobs to do, and it’s important to make correct decisions. Gio’s also got to take care of his positional play, make sure he kicks well ... he gives us a left-foot option from behind.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing



15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff

Susbsitutes: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Don Armand, 20 Nick Fenton-Wells, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Burton Francis


  • henri.lombard - 2012-05-23 16:18

    As die stormers speel soos wat hulle die laaste 2 weke gespeel het, het ek slegte nuus maar ek hoop van harte hulle kry die punte net om die pienk koeie se mondtjies stil te hou, Lions Groete

      Dirk - 2012-05-23 16:52

      Hulle moet, dan kan die Bulle die 2de Junie 100 driee druk en dink net aan al die geld wat hulle sal maak vir 'n goeie saak. PS die Stormer gaan terugkom met 105 driee vir een of ander rede.

      Dirk - 2012-05-23 17:03

      Bootman, we've figured Raven's angle by now.

      Lance - 2012-05-23 21:03

      It will be a tight game this weekend(Stormers/Sharks), but the truth is if the Bulls don't up their game this weekend they will be getting a serious hiding. Those Chief are pretty solid...and better than the Highlanders..Good luck Stormers and as a S'african I will hope for a Bulls win too(low score win only:-)

      Jason - 2012-05-24 08:29

      Sorry guys but moving lambie to Full back and losing Tim Whitehead means the Sharks are going to struggle and they have picked a very big pack, maybe to try and intimidate the young Stormers. Its going to be a cracker but the Stormers will win by 7 or more.

  • WernerZA - 2012-05-23 17:43

    Maybe with TWO ex-bulls on the wings they may score a few tries... If the ball can make it to the wings this week... Not sure though, since Grant is loving the feel of the ball on is foot.

      Harold - 2012-05-24 06:47

      It was career suicide for both them wings.

  • RetiefC - 2012-05-23 17:58

    I think the Stormers' luck will run out this weekend. They can't keep on winning with the ref's assistance week after week. The officials for Saturday are: Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa) Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Reuben Rossouw (South Africa) Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa) Sharks to take this one by 5. Stormers will get a loss bonus point.

      Ian - 2012-05-23 20:03

      Funny that. I've never noticed the ref pushing in the scrum that has held its own (or better) this year, nor have I seen the ref putting the opposition under pressure to give away penalties. Come to that I've yet to see the ref. kick a goal or tackle . Cut your b/s and just admit the Stormers play well as a team. There is no reason to doubt that they will continue to play well against the Sharks.

      Unistan - 2012-05-23 20:24

      Why always bring the ref into the game, I mean who Is playing the? 15 men aside... If the Stormers win great, and if they don't then hey I still support them,ref or not. Stop supporting the whistle blower...just enjoy the game and learn

      Harold - 2012-05-24 06:48

      At last, a non-corrupt ref. Go Sharks.

      Jed - 2012-05-24 07:51

      Actually , Harold, I was watching Reunion rugby show. Your Bulls penalty count at home and away , 51 home and 71 away. Shows how the Bulls are Favoured at home, makes you wonder how many trophy's you would of won without the Ref's.

      Crapdetector - 2012-05-24 07:55

      @ retiefc. Suur druiwe my maat. Ek vind dit baie snaaks hoe die bulls ondersteuners so moan oor die ref's? Eks jammer julle kan nie so bestendig wen rugby speel soos die Stormers nie maar om altyd die ref te blameer is lagwekkend! Wees bekommerd oor wat jy kan beheer. Jy is n joke! Get a life! Clown.

  • stefan505 - 2012-05-23 20:29

    Een ding is verseker, Stormer ondersteuners is duidelik nie gewild in die forums nie. Mag die volgende paar weke se games 'n groot toonvenster van SA derbies wees. Go Stormers!

      Harold - 2012-05-24 06:48

      I wonder why?

  • Unistan - 2012-05-23 20:31

    With 2 bulls or not, or even grant kicking the ball( still beter over steyn) the Stormers still win 10 out of 11, bonus points or not. Stop making stupid comments to make the Stormers look weak or out played... We are on top and we can back that, can your team?\r\nStormer for life and proud to be

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