Stormers' training aborted

    2014-03-04 21:45
    Christchurch - Bad weather denied the Stormers an opportunity to shake off jet lag on Tuesday when their training session in Christchurch, New Zealand, was halted after only 20 minutes.

    The latest acquisitions to the Stormers' Australasia tour squad, Samoan wing Sailosi Tagicakibau and flyhalf Peter Grant, were meant to be integrated into the team's playing structures ahead of Saturday's Super Rugby clash against the Crusaders.

    But Stormers' captain Jean de Villiers said on Tuesday that conditions were so bad that training was called off.

    "It has been really cold, wet and windy here the past few days and it turned for the worse today," said De Villiers.

    "In fact, we lasted only 20 minutes at training.

    "We decided to postpone training as it was not ideal conditions to get things done. I must say it is probably some of the worst weather I have experienced in New Zealand -- and it's meant to be summer here!"

    The Stormers have a few selections to ponder as they need to strengthen the team after an uninspiring performance against the Hurricanes at Newlands last week, where they scraped home 19-18, thanks to a seven-pointer in the dying stages of the match.

    Tagicakibau is likely to make his debut for the Stormers at the expense of rookie wing Kobus van Wyk, who was one of the few players to emerge with credit in the Stormers' first two outings this season.

    Van Wyk, a Baby Bok two seasons ago, will very likely be moved out to the substitutes' bench where he offers cover at wing and centre.

    The 31-year-old Tagicakibau is a veteran of three World Cups, and is on loan from London Irish for the Super Rugby season. He has not been playing regularly in the Aviva Premiership after returning from injury and has failed to dislodge the regular wings in the (London Irish) side.

    However, Tagicakibau -- a highly rated winger in the same mould as former Stormers wing Fijian Sireli Naqelevuki -- is a powerful runner, and his height will be valuable when the Stormers backs are called on to field upfield kicks.

    London Irish also helped the Stormers last season when they sent out Canadian flank Jebb Sinclair to beef up the Cape franchise's loose forward resources, which were sorely depleted at the time.

    Grant is a highly experienced halfback and he is a far better option than Demetri Catrakilis or Kurt Coleman, who have not been able to stamp their authority on the match in the pivot position. The Stormers have lacked tactically smart kicking ability, and their upfield punts have not troubled their opponents.

    The other change will be at lock because Argentinian Manuel Carizza picked up a wrist injury last week and will be sidelined for two months. De Kock Steenkamp has returned from injury and he is the obvious choice to partner Rhynard Elstadt in the second row.

    Steenkamp should offer an improvement because Carizza, despite his international pedigree, failed to impress in his first two outings.

    De Villiers knows the odds are stacked against his team because the Stormers have never defeated the Crusaders, seven-times Super Rugby winners, in Christchurch. The Crusaders have also triumphed against the Stormers in three of their last four meetings at Newlands.

    "Simply put, it is a great challenge for us against a very successful Super Rugby franchise.

    "Playing against the Crusaders is really tough, as you can note by the fact that no South African team has won there in ages.

    "But that also means it's a great challenge for us. If we win there, we would have achieved something special, something we haven't achieved in the past and it's a great challenge for us as a young squad."

    Stormers coach Allister Coetzee will announce the team to face the Crusaders on Wednesday.

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