Coetzee backs Duane-less Stormers
Cape Town - Losing Duane Vermeulen for Saturday’s Super Rugby playoff against the Brumbies at Newlands is a massive blow to the Stormers’ chances, but coach Allister Coetzee is remaining positive.
The Springbok number eight was on Monday ruled out for the weekend – and potentially longer – as he continues to recover from the injury resulting from a bulging disc in his neck.
The smart money would be on Coetzee to opt for Nizaam Carr at the back of the scrum, and the coach was hinting as much at Monday’s press conference in Stellenbosch.
"I’m really pleased with Nemo’s (Carr) getting back to form. He’s been playing some good rugby again and this will be another good opportunity for him," said Coetzee.
But what Vermeulen does bring is a physical element that few others can match, and Coetzee said he would be expecting the rest of his squad to bring another “two percent” of physicality to make up for the loss of their captain.
"Duane is such an imposing character and has got such a presence in any team he plays for. It would have been great to have him in the quarter-finals," said Coetzee.
"But Nemo brings something different to the team and it’s exciting as well. I’ve got a lot of trust in the rest of our pack and I know that our loosies will get it right."
At the breakdown, Vermeulen’s absence will also be felt in creating and executing turnovers. But, again, Coetzee is confident in his other players.
"Duane is a natural poacher of the ball as well. But while we might be missing that element I’ve got no doubt that Siya (Kolisi) has stepped up in that regard; he’s stolen quite a few balls for us this season," said Coetzee.
"But I think the big thing won’t just be putting heat into the poaching but in our tackle fight; that’s going to be massively important - to execute tackles and make positive tackles."
The good news for the Stormers is that flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis has completely recovered from his concussion while hooker Scarra Ntubeni looks set to overcome the calf strain that kept him out the back end of the league season.
"Scarra is training well. He will be considered when he passes the fitness test. I’ve spoken to the doctor and I want to see him when he’s running at full tilt," said Coetzee.
"This (indoor training) is a confined space and there’s no discomfort so the step tomorrow morning is that, hopefully, if weather permits he’s on the field and he runs flat out.
"On a hard surface it’s a bit easier but on a softer surface you’ve got to test changing direction."
Saturday’s playoff kicks off at 17:05.