Kolisi looks at positives ahead of tough tour

    2018-02-20 16:21

    Gavin Rich - SuperSport

    Cape Town - A three-match tour of Australia and New Zealand might not be a perfect way to get into the new season but Stormers skipper Siya Kolisi has grabbed at some positives.

    According to the website, the Stormers flew out for Sydney on Sunday, the day after a fits and starts 28-20 win over the Jaguares at Newlands. They play the Waratahs this coming Saturday before heading over the Tasman Sea to face the champion Crusaders in Christchurch and then move on to Dunedin to play the Highlanders.

    Last year the Stormers were well beaten in New Zealand, and the Waratahs will start the season as an unknown quantity, as will all the Australian teams. While the South African strength is still spread because the two teams dropped from Super Rugby are now playing in the PRO14, the Australian strength will be more focused and concentrated due to the loss of the Western Force.

    The skilful Wallaby back Kurtley Beale seems to have high hopes for his team this year, and let’s not forget that it wasn’t that long ago that the Waratahs won the competition (2014).

    “Skilfully we can shock the competition. It’s a matter of everyone buying into the same thing. If that happens, we will give ourselves a good chance of success,” the mercurial Beale told the Sydney Morning Herald.

    One advantage the Stormers will have on Saturday though is that they are one game into their season. Coach Robbie Fleck felt the Stormers were a bit short of a gallop against the Jaguares because of rustiness, and that rustiness is probably what cost them a chance of winning comfortably and grabbing a try scoring bonus point.

    However, the closeness of the game and the fact that they had to dig deep will have helped shock the Stormers into sharpness, and it could just give them an edge in Sydney, where the Waratahs will be in the same position the Stormers were in last week. They will need any advantage they can get because the Crusaders game the following week will be exceedingly tough, and Dunedin is a difficult away venue too.

    For his part, skipper Kolisi is taking the sort of attitude into the tour that former Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer expressed when he often spoke about how diamonds were created from the pressure of coal compacting on itself. Kolisi is hoping the early attrition will create some gems that will shine brightly later in the season.

    “I think the close game was a good thing and I am also positive about the timing of the tour. It comes at the perfect time to bring us all together and really unite us as a team,” said Kolisi.

    “It is on a tour that you spend a lot of time off the field getting to know each other. We go to breakfast together, we go and have coffee with one another. A tour just makes you get closer.”

    Then there is also the not insignificant fact that the tour will be a massive baptism of fire for several newcomers who are playing in the place of injured players. Later in the season they might be fringe players in the squad, but this phase of the season will ready them for action should they be called upon to play at the business end.

    “It could be these guys playing in the final at the end so every guy in the squad is being pushed. It is up to us guys who go on tour to give everything and not hold back because we know there are guys back home who would love to be here,” he said.

    The Stormers’ chances of doing well on tour were boosted when Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit was cleared to travel with the 27-man squad. SP Marais, who was the regular starting fullback in the last Super Rugby season, has also recovered from injury and is part of the travelling group.

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