Coetzee pleased with squad
Cape Town - Stormers coach Allister Coetzee believes his squad is in a better space physically heading into their four match Vodacom Super Rugby tour of Australasia than was the case when they embarked on the corresponding trip last year.
The supersport.com website reports that in 2014 the Stormers left for the Antipodes after just two games in the competition already severely weakened by injury, but although there have been a few players sitting out along the way in the five games played thus far in 2015, there is only one player who was considered among the frontliners at the start of the season who will be absent when the group of 27 flies out from Cape Town on Sunday.
“Rynhardt Elstadt broke his leg in round two and we are sorry to be without him but fortunately he is the only player who might otherwise have toured who is absent and that is a good space for us to be in if you compare it to the situation we were in during the last few seasons,” said Coetzee.
Scrumhalf Louis Schreuder was concussed playing against the Chiefs at Newlands at the weekend but he has been included as one of two players in his position.
“Louis is progressing well with his concussion tests and at this point, with a lot of time to go before our first game, he is almost ready to be passed to play, so he will be coming with us on tour,” added the coach.
Asked why he was only taking two scrumhalves and two hookers as opposed to three in each position like some coaches do, Coetzee said he preferred to take an extra prop rather than an extra hooker – Oli Kebble has joined the four props who did duty against the Chiefs in the touring squad – while he wanted extra options among his outside backs.
“What I normally do is make sure there is one backline player who is able to play scrumhalf should someone come down with something the night before the game. I know a lot of people will wonder if that is Cheslin Kolbe, but I am not telling you who it is,” laughed Coetzee.
The Stormers coach’s first priority ahead of the tour will be to settle on his starting back row for the match against the Highlanders in Dunedin that opens the tour schedule on 28 March. Skipper Duane Vermeulen is not available for the game as per the agreement with SARU to rest key Springboks, and Coetzee explained that the solution to the problem was a bit more complicated than just shifting Nizaam Carr to No 8 from openside.
“We have to ensure we have the right balance to the loose trio, and Schalk Burger and Nizaam are similar types of players who like to play a linking game. We need a combination made up of a hard grafter, a lineout option and a player who plays the offload, linking game.”
Michael Rhodes is back in the selection mix after sitting out last week and that will please Coetzee as the former Sharks and Lions utility forward was in excellent form before he was injured. However, Coetzee will have to assess his readiness to play after a three week lay-off.
With Jaco Taute still out and unable to tour, Huw Jones will be Damian de Allende’s back-up at inside centre.
Stormers touring squad: Cheslin Kolbe, Johnny Kotze, Dillyn Leyds, Kobus van Wyk, Juan de Jongh, Huw Jones, Damian de Allende, Kurt Coleman, Demetri Catrakilis, Nic Groom, Louis Schreuder, Duane Vermeulen (captain), Schalk Burger, Michael Rhodes, Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Ruan Botha, Manuel Carizza, Jean Kleyn, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Vincent Koch, Oli Kebble, Alistair Vermaak, Steven Kitshoff, Scarra Ntubeni, Bongi Mbonambi.