All the hard work has been done. Now it is time for the Investec Stormers to go out and show their supporters what they can do.
Tomorrow night the Stormers will start their 2005 Super 12 campaign against the Sharks at Newlands and the players cannot wait for kick-off.
They are confident of doing well this season, but they know that the Super 12 is an unforgiving competition in which you cannot underestimate any opponent.
Captain Neil de Kock this week said the team will be looking to go one better than last year, when they were knocked out in the semifinal. However, he knows the heat will be on every team in the arduous competition.
“I think there is pressure in every game. Every game is going to be important. There is not much between the teams. I said it before; any team can beat any team in the Super 12. So I think it is important for us to take it game by game, but not to put too much pressure on us this weekend.
“There will be pressure every week, but obviously we will go out there with the aim of getting a good start. Writing off any team, especially the Sharks, would be a bit silly I think. They have got a lot to prove in this game. If you look at their team on paper, it is not a weak team at all.
“It is about us putting our game together on Friday night, taking the Sharks on and playing our own game.”
The scrumhalf said that although the Sharks would be without AJ Venter, the Stormers still expect them to come out with their guns blazing. “The Sharks have always been physical and we expect nothing different on Friday night.
“We are just expecting another physical onslaught from them and we are looking to go out there and do well, no matter what they throw at us.”
The captain said the Stormers have the advantage that they have several experienced key players in many positions who can easily assume the leadership role. “I think it is crucial that this team has those leaders in different positions, guys such as Joe, Luke, De Wet and Adri Badenhorst, who can step up to the captaincy role at any time.
“It is vital especially in those games where you need guys just to calm things down a bit and relax and take a decision. I think throughout the team we have that level-headedness and guys who can make good calls when the pressure is on.”
The Stormers will surely need cool heads against a Sharks team who will be highly motivated to prove that they will not be content with the part of also-rans in the Super 12.
Teams for Newlands:
Investec Stormers: 15. Werner Greeff, 14. Breyton Paulse, 13. Marius Joubert, 12. De Wet Barry, 11. Jean De Villiers, 10. Gaffie Du Toit, 9. Neil De Kock (captain), 8. Joe Van Niekerk (V/C), 7. Schalk Burger, 6. Luke Watson, 5. Gerrie Britz, 4. Quinton Davids, 3. Faan Rautenbach 2. Pieter Dixon, 1. Eddie Andrews. Reserves: 16. Hanyani Shimange, 17. Riaan Olckers, 18. Rob Linde, 19. Adri Badenhorst, 20. Bolla Conradie, 21. Gus Theron, 22. Tiger Mangweni.
Sharks: Brent Russell, Odwa Ndungane, Trevor Halstead, Gcobani Bobo, Dean Hall, Butch James, Craig Davidson, Jaco Gouws (k), Braam Immelman, Jacques Botes, Albert van den Berg, Nico Breedt, BJ Botha, Skipper Badenhorst, Eduard Coetzee. Reserves: John Smit, Danie Saayman, Charl van Rensburg, Solly Tyibilika, Ruan Pienaar, Rudi Keil, Jacques Schutte.