Time to shine for Stormers backs

Wed, 24 Apr 2013 18:18
Large jeandevilliersstormerstraining Large conradsmith2 Large juandejonghstormerstraining6 Large bryan habana stormers drink Large gary van aswegen Large julian savea hurricanes

Stormers captain Jean de Villiers says they are embracing the fact that the onus has fallen on the backline ahead of Friday’s encounter against the Hurricanes.

Stormers captain Jean de Villiers says they are embracing the fact that the onus has fallen on the backline ahead of Friday’s encounter against the Hurricanes in Palmerston North.

Friday’s match, the Stormers’ first of their Australasian tour, has been billed as the battle of the backlines and De Villiers says the backs are relishing the challenge, with the spotlight usually falling on the tussle up front.

“They’ve got a quality backline. They’ve managed to score some good tries in the competition and they’ve showed that they can compete against the best,” De Villiers said of the Hurricanes back division on Wednesday.  

“That’s a great challenge for us as a backline and I think the competitiveness that we have within the side will help us in this game. We play rugby to rate ourselves against the best and we want to take on every challenge that comes our way and hopefully come up trumps and this week is no different.”

The Springbok skipper and centre partner Juan de Jongh have been in formidable form as a combination and De Villiers believes they will have vital roles to play on Friday.  

“We’ve got a big responsibility in the team from an attacking, defensive and communication point of view, so if we can give the go-forward on attack and organise the defence and make sure they don’t get momentum it’s a massive positive for the team. We’re enjoying the combination and hopefully we can go from strength to strength,” he said.

De Villiers is also relishing renewing an old rivalry against Hurricanes captain and All Black foe Conrad Smith.

“Obviously he’s at 13 and I’m at 12 but it’s a nice challenge individually. He’s showed over the last number of years that he’s a quality player and the last two years as a leader as well he’s done really well with the Hurricanes.

“He’ll be a threat for us from an attacking point of view and as a defensive centre he’s also really solid, so I’m looking forward to that battle,” he said.

The Stormers backline gained a significant boost in terms of experience with the return of Springbok wing Bryan Habana, but at flyhalf Gary van Aswegen will earn his first start in a tour game.

De Villiers, however, has full faith in the youngster.  

“He can do the job without a doubt. The more he trains with the squad the more confident he gets and he’s matured a lot,” said De Villiers.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said that although the loss of All Black wing Julian Savea, who has stood down due to off-field issues, is a blow to the hosts, they have sufficient depth in backline talent.   

“He’s a top quality wing and I’m sure our players would have loved to play against Julian but be that as it may they still have a quality set of backs,” said Coetzee.

“They’ve got some steppers if you look at the fullback, and the other wing is just as good, and especially the centre combination of Conrad Smith and Tim Bateman is a settled combination, so our defence will be tested.”

Coetzee said work ethic and ball retention will be key in the crunch clash.

“It’s a couple of international players playing against each other so they know they’ve got to be at their best. Our players understand it’s a massively important game for us; it’s the first game on tour and you’d like to start on a positive and winning note,” he said.

“The main thing is how hard we’re going to work for each other and how hard we’re going to work in all departments because they feed off turnover possession.

“If you look at the tries they’ve scored you can’t make silly mistakes, you’ve got to be composed when you have ball because you want to keep ball because as soon as you turn it over they’ll punish you.”  

Coetzee assured that they are not overlooking the importance of fronting up physically and feels the Hurricanes possess a solid pack.

“They got real experience and a quick back row who are very difficult to be contained. They win their line-outs and their source of possession is quite good, that’s why their backs can perform like they’ve been performing.

“It’s a New Zealand game so you’ve got to be up physically for the game. If you’re not up physically against any New Zealand side you’ll lose the game.

“We realise that the collisions are going to be one of those areas that you’ve got to come out on top otherwise it’ll be tough, so we’ve got to make sure we scrum well and that our driving mauls are functioning well,” said Coetzee.

There are currently no matches being played
Sun, 22 October 2017
Montpellier v Exeter Chiefs 12h00 Altrad Stadium
La Rochelle v Ulster 14h15 Paris
Wasps v Harlequins 16h30 Ricoh Arena
Fri, 27 October 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Kings 18h35 Scotstoun Stadium
Sale Sharks v Exeter Chiefs 18h45 AJ Bell Stadium
Ospreys v Dragons 19h35 Liberty Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Munster 19h35 Sportsground
Sat, 28 October 2017
Treviso v Edinburgh 14h00 Stadio Monigo
Harlequins v Worcester Warriors 14h00 Twickenham
Saracens v London Irish 14h00 Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Wasps 14h00 Franklin's Gardens
Sharks v Western Province 14h00 Kings Park, Durban
Ulster v Leinster 17h15 Kingspan Stadium
Scarlets v Cardiff Blues 18h35 Parc y Scarlets
Zebre v Cheetahs 19h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 6 0 9 34
Force 15 6 0 9 26
Reds 15 4 0 11 21
Waratahs 15 4 0 11 19
Rebels 15 1 1 13 9
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 15 14 0 1 63
Hurricanes 15 12 0 3 58
Chiefs 15 12 1 2 57
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 51
Blues 15 7 1 7 37
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 0 5 43
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Bulls 15 4 0 11 20
Sunwolves 15 2 0 13 12
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 15 14 0 1 65
Sharks 15 9 1 5 42
Jaguares 15 7 0 8 33
Kings 15 6 0 9 28