Jean: 'Stormers coaches aren't idiots'

Wed, 17 Jul 2013 13:16
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Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has hit out at critics of the Stormers coaching staff, suggesting it is time to "start toning down" the negativity.

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has hit out at critics of the Stormers coaching staff, suggesting it is time to "start toning down" all the negativity attached to Cape Town teams.

De Villiers, speaking in the wake of the Stormers' 30-13 demolition of the South African conference winners, the Bulls, said the Stormers' failure to make the Super Rugby play-offs should be put into context.

The Stormers, who let in just 18 tries in their 16 league matches, have long been known as a defence-orientated team.

However, last Saturday they showed some great attacking form to outscore the Bulls three tries to one.

De Villiers said it is easy to go out if there is no pressure on you in terms of having to score four tries, or having to make the play-offs, and play more expansive.

"You have to put it all in context," the Stormers skipper said, adding: "Earlier in the year, when the pressure was on, at times we probably did not respond as we should have - when perhaps we fell back on our strength, which in the past was our defence.

"That's when sometimes you go back into your shell.

"Sometimes things work in your favour - last year it [defence] worked for us and we finished first on the log, this year we finished seventh, and at one stage we had 16 injuries."

De Villiers echoed the sentiments of coach Allister Coetzee, who suggested that they were hard done by by match officials in a few matches.

He felt that if those calls had gone in their favour, the season may well have panned out very differently.

"The plan was always to peak at this stage of the season," he said of the Stormers' five-match winning streak at the end, also hitting back at the critics.

"There are all these questions: 'What is going on with the Stormers? Why such a bad season?'

"However, if you put it in context, you will see it is not such a bad season, the coaches are not such idiots and they actually planned very well.

"The plan worked, but there were just two or three games we should have won and if we did the situation would have been completely different."

Like coach Allister Coetzee he also intimated that the Stormers did well to come back, given the horror start they had to their campaign - which saw them play three of the top sides in the top-ranked Chiefs, Bulls (second) and Brumbies (third), with the powerful Sharks also in the first four weeks.

"We didn't get to play the bottom-ranked team in the New Zealand conference or the last-placed team in the Australian conference," De Villiers said, adding: "We were hit by injuries, at one stage 16 injuries.

"Then the squad was, emotionally, really struck by what Schalk [Burger] went through," he said of the burly Boks hospitalisation with a life-threatening infection.

"That's not something in the distance, it is a friend of yours, he's part of the family.

"Also, what happened with Elton [Jantjies] with [the death of] his dad and what Thinus [Linee] is going through," he said of the paralysing motor neuron disease of the former Bok centre.

"Those are close to home, something within the squad and it hits you hard emotionally.

"A lot happened this year and still we managed to beat five out of the top six [teams in the competition].

"If you get some consistency and you can name the same side for five, six weeks in a row, then perhaps you won't crawl into your shell.

"That was the situation with the [16] injuries.

"We are not in the play-offs, but we can still be proud of what we achieved and I am still proud to call myself a Stormer.

"The [WP] Under-13s won Craven Week, the Under-16s won [the] Grant Khomo [tournament], the Under-18s won Craven Week and we won.

"They must be doing something right in Western Province.

"Maybe we should start toning down all these negativity attached to WP and the Stormers."

By Jan de Koning

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