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Stormers face comprehensive test

Tue, 30 Apr 2013 11:12
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It's going to be a big challenge on all levels
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Stormers forwards coach Matt Proudfoot expects the Blues to test his side 'on all levels' in their clash in Albany this weekend.

The Cape outfit got their Australasian tour off to a winning start last week when they squeezed past the Hurricanes in Palmerston North, but the coaching staff are adamant that they will have to raise their game considerably if they are to compete with a dangerous Blues side.

Coach John Kirwan's team suffered a narrow defeat against the Reds in Brisbane last week, and they will be looking to get back on track against the tourists.

Speaking from Auckland on Tuesday, Proudfoot said: "We weren't quite where we wanted to be against the Hurricanes.

"Some things we did pretty well, but other areas did not go so well for us... We watched the Blues against the Reds and saw their intensity, so we know that we have to be at our best for what is going to be a really big challenge," he added.

Proudfoot explained that the Stormers are feeling confident that they can meet the challenge that the Blues will present at Albany's North Harbour Stadium - a new Super Rugby venue for the Stormers, whose eight previous away encounters against the Blues have all been played in Auckland.

"We're looking forward to facing the Blues; we're training well, today's sessions were great. The team is in a very good space - it's all about making sure that the detail is there and then accepting the challenge against one of the traditional powerhouses of New Zealand rugby. It's going to be exciting and a big challenge for the boys," he said.

According to reports, veteran Blues hooker Keven Mealamu is set to return to the starting line-up this week and his combination with fellow All Black Ali Williams will be crucial for the home side - who, like the Stormers, have played eight games so far this season; also winning four and losing four.

"Keven Mealamu is probably the most experienced hooker in New Zealand rugby at the moment - he played his 100th match at DHL Newlands last year - he's really experienced. Ali Williams is really fantastic at the line-out, but I think they're a side that can test us both at scrum and line-out time," said Proudfoot.

"More than that, there's that proud tradition of the Blues. I remember playing against them back in 1996/97 - when they were the champions. They're an unbelievable Super Rugby franchise - it's going to be a big challenge on all levels; technically, physically and also playing at a new stadium."

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