Stormers have a 'pink slip'
Stormers have a 'pink slip'SHARE
Having been in a similar position last year, Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph is expecting the Stormers to play with freedom at Newlands on Saturday.
The Cape side find themselves at the bottom of the standings after a horror season, and Joseph can relate to their situation – having suffered the same fate last year.
The Highlanders coach said that with the pressure of contending for play-off places off their shoulders, the Stormers have an opportunity to express themselves more on attack in this Round 12 Super Rugby encounter.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has tried to find a better balance between defence and attack than they have had in recent years, and Joseph said that their new mindset coupled with their lowly position on the log make them a particularly tricky prospect this weekend.
"I think they have got a very dangerous attacking mindset now, the pressure of having to win competition points is off these guys.
"We have been in that position too as a team, and it wasn't until we relinquished that we played some really good rugby [last season] coming back from South Africa and putting 30 points past the Blues was the first sign of that," he said.
Joseph said that although they conceded a rare bonus point against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last week, the Stormers showed some good intent which means his defence will have to be on their toes at Newlands.
"We are expecting a very tough game against the Stormers and their attack, we have seen against the Cheetahs that they are willing to throw the ball around from everywhere and we have also been in that position so we will have to be very accurate with our defence and make sure they don't do that to us," he said.
He warned that although they may have adapted their approach on attack slightly, the Stormers remain a physical side that is capable of playing a very direct game and features a host of Test players who cannot be taken lightly.
"We also know that in their loose forwards, in their forward pack across the board really, they have got some very proud and strong players who can play very directly if they need to.
"The Stormers out of the South African teams for me personally have always been the hardest team to prepare for because they can do a few different things.
"I think they are a very physical rugby team, and I think they will be very physical this weekend, that is certainly the message we are giving our players.
"You have got the Springbok captain in that team and some very proud Springbok players and from what I understand about that pride is that it will be enough to take them forward so we are expecting a toughie," he added.
By Michael de Vries