De Villiers upbeat ahead of opener

Wed, 20 Feb 2013 11:25
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Stormers captain Jean de Villiers is positive his team can make an early impact on the South African Conference when they face the Bulls at Loftus on Friday.

Stormers captain Jean de Villiers is positive his team can make an early impact on the South African Conference when they face the Bulls at Loftus on Friday.

De Villiers, who is a veteran of eight Super Rugby tournaments, is no stranger to the first game of the season and the emotions that come with it.

"I have been playing for a while now and whenever you get to this time of the season the excitement picks up and you get excited by what lies ahead.

"We know it is going to be a tough start for us but you can see the change in mood at training and everyone is upbeat and looking forward to the game on Friday," the stand-in captain said.

The Stormers stalwart mentioned the importance as well as the ability of his side to play well away from home:

"The attitude towards playing away from home has changed a helluva lot and if you have a look at our track record  over the last four to five years it's been really good away from home and if anything we have probably been disappointing at home in crucial games."

De Villiers also knows what it takes to go to Pretoria and win and understands the hardships of making the trip up to the highveld.

"Loftus will always be a challenge for any team going there, there is a lot that counts against you when you go up there. The altitude, the big crowd that comes in and they are a quality side."

The centre also mentioned: "We have had a good preseason and have done a lot of running and yes it is different playing up there and I think the fact that we are playing at night will help with that and when the adrenalin starts going you don't really think about that."

The Stormers who have dominated the South African conference for the past two seasons are well aware of the importance of this season in setting themselves up as consistently one of the top three teams in the tournament.

In 2013, De Villiers believes that the squad is as strong as it has ever been and is excited by the new additions who will be making their debuts this Friday.

"I think that he is a great player [de Allende] and you wouldn't think that he is playing in his first Super Rugby game. He enjoys what he is doing, he enjoys being in this environment and he is flipping good at what he does.

"He has got a really good pass and the same with Elton [Jantjies] at 10 opens up opportunities out wide and with the back three that we have got it gives us a lot of striking power out-wide as well," he explained.

De Villiers, who spent a lot of his career at No.12, will once again find himself at No. 13 and he feels that this is not an issue as he has played there a lot in the past eight months.

"I have played there before, I have played there for the Stormers there quite a bit and obviously a lot last year for the Boks and it is something I am comfortable with and looking at the players that we do have I think that is the best mix for this weekend."

The Springbok captain also said: "It take a load off Juan and myself knowing that there three guys like [de Allende], Jaco [Taute] who can slot in there, Bryan [Habana] can slot in there as well and the depth in our squad is much better this year."

He also made a comment on the loss of Schalk Burger: "Schalk will be missed whenever he is not playing, as a player, as a leader and just his brutality that he brings to the pack."

With this said, it gives the other forwards the opportunity to step into more senior leadership roles with a number of new and fresh players joining the Stormers.

The Stormers are going to have their work cut out for them when they travel to Pretoria and take on a Bulls team that have quietly gone about their pre-season business without much fuss. They have a strong squad and will be looking to take the scalp of the conference champions early in the season.

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Fri, 09 October 2015
Western Province v EP Kings 16h00 Newlands
Pumas v Blue Bulls 16h00 Mbombela Stadium
New Zealand v Tonga 19h00 Newcastle
Sat, 10 October 2015
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 12h00 Bloemfontein
Samoa v Scotland 13h30 Newcastle
Golden Lions v Griquas 14h00 Ellis Park
Australia v Wales 15h45 London
England v Uruguay 19h00 Manchester
Sun, 11 October 2015
Argentina v Namibia 11h00 Leicester
Italy v Romania 13h30 Exeter
France v Ireland 15h45 Cardiff
United States v Japan 19h00 Gloucester
Wed, 07 October 2015
Namibia v Georgia 16 | 17
South Africa v United States 64 | 0
Tue, 06 October 2015
Fiji v Uruguay 47 | 15
Canada v Romania 15 | 17
Sun, 04 October 2015
Ireland v Italy 16 | 9
Argentina v Tonga 45 | 16
Zebre v Scarlets 8 | 20
Sat, 03 October 2015
England v Australia 13 | 33
Connacht v Cardiff Blues 36 | 31
South Africa v Scotland 34 | 16
Samoa v Japan 5 | 26
Leinster v Dragons 37 | 13
Griquas v Sharks 20 | 45
Pumas v Free State Cheetahs 37 | 37
Fri, 02 October 2015
New Zealand v Georgia 43 | 10
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
Rebels 16 7 0 9 36
Reds 16 4 0 12 22
Force 16 3 0 13 19
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 0 2 66
Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
Crusaders 16 9 0 7 46
Blues 16 3 0 13 20
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 16 10 1 5 45
Lions 16 9 1 6 42
Bulls 16 7 0 9 38
Sharks 16 7 0 9 34
Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26