Stormers to kick on overseas?

Sun, 14 Apr 2013 08:57
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The Stormers may have endured a tough start to the season, but their victory over the Sharks at Newlands has given them a crucial boost.

The Stormers may have endured a tough start to the season, but their victory over the Sharks at Newlands has given them a crucial boost.

Although they have only won three of their seven games this season, the Cape side find themselves just six points behind the Sharks who lead the South African conference, and will head overseas with renewed hope.

Although it was far from a polished performance coach Allister Coetzee was pleased with the fighting spirit his team showed under pressure on Saturday, and is hoping that they can use it as a starting point to build some momentum in the second half of the season.

He said: "They have been under tremendous pressure - youngsters in the team and a long injury list, in the position that we were in playing at Newlands in front of 40 000 people.

"It was important, we had our backs against the wall to be honest, and there was only onw way out which was to fight back and we did that well.

"It is not the complete performance yet, there is still a lot of hard work. It is a tough tour that is on hand so we have got to take confidence from this one and keep building," added Coetzee.

The fact that their three victories have come against the three conference leaders has given Coetzee confidence that their approach has been the right one, and with a few senior players expected to return from injury and join them on tour the Stormers coach is hoping that this win will prove to be the turning point in their season.

"It shows the quality and character in our side, it shows also that the way we play and what we want to do is the right way. As long as you pitch up with the right attitude and physicality.

"A lot of teams must still play tough opposition and the competition is not even halfway yet, I think we are in Round Seven for South African teams.

"Our back-up players like a Martin Bezuidenhout, Michael Rhodes, Gerbrandt Grobler got a run, Gary van Aswegen and even Kurt Coleman got on. They all stood their ground and did well.

"They were all part of this victory and that is pleasing for me. To know that Bryan Habana will be back on tour, Rynhardt Elstadt will be back and Gerhard van den Heever and maybe Elton Jantjies as well.

"So it is pleasing to know that the depth is good and when the top players come back they can change things around," he said.

Stormers captain Jean de Villiers admitted that the bye next week could not have come at a better time, and expressed hope that they will be able to make an impression in Australasia where they will face the Hurricanes, Blues, Waratahs and Rebels.

"I think for us the bye comes at a very nice time, it is needed and as you can see by our injury list it will do us well to get a week off.

"For the tour we probably have four or five guys coming back, if you add to the 22 that played tonight a Scarra Ntubeni, a Don Armand and maybe Eben [Etzebeth], Rynhardt Elstadt, Gerhard Van den Heever, Bryan Habana and Elton Jantjies then suddenly you have got a bit of depth," said De Villiers.

The experienced centre said that the win has given his side the belief that they can contend for a play-off place once more this season.

"It has been a tough season for us so far, but we are on 20 points if you take the bye next week into account. 60 points is always where you want to get to, and with nine games remaining there are 36 points on offer, if you can win all of those then you will reach 60.

"So that is what we are striving towards, it is much easier said than done, but we are definitely not out of it and I think we are back on track now," he said.

Coetzee said that despite suffering a concussion Deon Fourie will definitely tour, whilst he still has to make a call on Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth.

"Deon's [Fourie] concussion is straight forward  next week is week one and then week two so he will be ready for the first game on tour.

"Scarra Ntubeni and Bryan Habana will definitely be available along with Rynhardt Elstadt but it will be touch and go with Elton [Jantjies] and Gerhard [Van den Heever]. They are 50/50 and I have got to make a decision on Eben [Etzebeth].

"Eben is a guy that wants to have confidence in his physical preparation, so those are the questions I am faced with and the issues I have got to make a decision on. He doesn't play if he doesn't feel confident in his physical ability," he explained.

By Michael de Vries

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