Stormers aim to start strong

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 15:08
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Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says it is imperative that his side get off to a good start if they are to break their Super Rugby drought this year.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says it is imperative that his side get off to a good start if they are to break their Super Rugby drought this year.

The Cape franchise have an unenviable draw to launch their title surge this season beginning with a tough away fixture against arch-rivals the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on February 22.

The following week they play the Sharks in Durban in a crucial South African conference clash before they host the defending champion Chiefs in their first home game of the season seven days later.

The Stormers made the most of their draw last year and got their campaign off to a perfect start with home wins over the Hurricanes and the Sharks before their first bye in Round Three.

Their task is substantially more challenging this year but Coetzee said it is vital that his charges emulate their fast start of 2012 to position  themselves well for the remainder of the season.

“The big thing is to start well. You don’t want to get on the back foot and lose a couple of games on the trot,” Coetzee said.

“We’re aware that our opening game is a big one away from home and it’s going to be a tough one but everything we do, including Saturday’s game against Boland, is aimed at getting it right on the 22nd.”

Coetzee said the second challenge is play consistently well and to ensure there is constant improvement throughout the season.

“It’s a long competition. We’ve seen teams who were never in the running and still made the play-offs and teams who started strong but come the play-offs were finished,” he said.

“It’s a matter of building an upward curve and making sure the graph picks up every time we play.

“Although we’re playing top quality sides, it’s important that we tick off certain things like our workrate and our physicality.”

Coaches got their first taste of what to expect from the extended 15-team campaign last year and accordingly to Coetzee, the greatest lesson learned was the importance of depth and competent man management.

“Depth is vital, that’s why we try to grow a bigger squad. It’s important to play your best players at the back end of the competition and have your strongest side possible to play in play-offs,” Coetzee said.

“With the quality [of players] we have I think we can do that and use rotation effectively. You can’t rotate if you don’t have the experience and class in your depth.

“When Schalla [Schalk Burger] comes back we will have a good combination of loose forwards. Siya [Kolisi] can play six and seven, Rynhardt [Elstadt] can play seven or four, Duane [Vermeulen] can even play four and six and he’s a good seven, so that’s the kind of versatility we’re looking for in our squad system.

“You never win a competition with just a certain number of players alone, you have to tap into your depth.”

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 27 May 2016
Hurricanes v Highlanders 07h35 Wellington
Waratahs v Chiefs 09h40 Sydney
Boland v Eagles 13h00 Wellington
Free State Cheetahs v Pumas 13h00 Bloemfontein
Kings v Jaguares 17h00 Ascoli Piceno
Border v Falcons 17h00 East London
Sat, 28 May 2016
Blues v Crusaders 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Sunwolves 09h40 Canberra
Western Province v Griquas 10h15 Newlands
Blue Bulls v Leopards 12h15 Loftus Versfeld
Stormers v Cheetahs 13h00 DHL Newlands
Namibia v Griffons 13h00 Windhoek
Golden Lions v EP Kings 13h00 Johannesburg
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs 14h00 London
Bulls v Lions 15h05 Loftus Versfeld
Leinster v Connacht 16h30 Edinburgh
Sun, 29 May 2016
Rebels v Force 06h05 Melbourne
England v Wales 14h00 London
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 11 6 0 5 30
Brumbies 11 7 0 4 29
Rebels 10 5 0 5 23
Reds 13 3 1 9 16
Force 11 2 0 9 11
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Chiefs 11 9 0 2 42
Crusaders 11 9 0 2 41
Highlanders 11 8 0 3 37
Hurricanes 11 7 0 4 36
Blues 11 6 1 4 29
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Bulls 11 7 1 3 32
Stormers 11 6 1 4 32
Cheetahs 11 3 0 8 16
Sunwolves 11 1 1 9 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 11 8 0 3 37
Sharks 12 7 1 4 35
Jaguares 11 2 0 9 13
Kings 11 1 0 10 4