Fight fire with fire. That was the war talk from new Vodacom Stormers hooker Tiaan Liebenberg before Friday night’s Vodacom Super 14 clash with the Chiefs.
The former Cheetahs hooker takes over from Schalk Brits after warming the subsitutes’ bench for the first two games. The former Griquas star signed for Vodacom WP during the latter part of last season’s Currie Cup competition.
Liebenberg could hardly contain his excitement when he spoke about his inclusion on Thursday. “I am very excited. It is something I’ve been waiting for for a while now.
“When I signed last year (for Vodacom WP) it was also with the eye on the Super 14 and to get enough game time. Now I am just glad – not that glad that we are not doing well at the moment – but glad that I am getting the chance to show what I can do.
“I am glad that I get a chance to prove my worth to the team. I like to take the ball up and to run at defenders. I like to win the battle against the opposition and if that is what Kobus wants, that is right in my arc and that is exactly how I want to jol the game – physically and taking the game to the opposition.
“I am very excited and am looking forward to it,” said the 25-year-old.
He has a healhty respect for the Chiefs pack though and doesn’t expect a walk in the park. “They are not bad. We watched the video and I remember from last year’s game against them they are a really physical pack.
“A lot of teams call them the Bulls of New Zealand and I feel we should fight fire with fire. When a guy comes for you, the only way you are going to stop him is by going for him 100%.
“I feel our pack can make the physical step up with Robbie and Brok who also bring some weight and bulk. We are all three guys who like to take contact, so if they come we will try to hurt them.”
Liebenberg said his understanding with his jumpers is much better than last year. “When I arrived here last season I had three games before the (Currie Cup) semi-final.
“I think we went into the semi-final and I didn’t even know some of the calls. It is much better now because I had a pre-season with the okes. We have world class locks.
“All you as hooker have to do is throw the ball in their hands, so I am looking forward to that.”
Liebenberg is confident that the Stormers could turn things around on Friday evening. “I wouldn’t say mood in camp is bad. Any team has been where we are at moment.
“There were a few mishaps, but as Luke said, it is just one lucky bounce of the ball and if all the small things come together we are going to destroy teams. We haven’t played well, but there were still brilliant things.
“Everybody is still positive and everybody knows we are the 32 guys who should stand together. If we don’t, everything will fall flat. We talked about it Monday and made a decision to stand together and support one another.”
Liebenberg is keen to make a huge impression on Friday and make it difficult for Brits to win back the number two jersey. “There was a lot of pressure on the tight five in the last two games.
“Schalk is a brilliant player and I rate him highly, but I am glad for the opportunity to show what I can offer. I will try my best not to give up my place in the starting XV again.
“Schalk is a class act, but I will really fight to retain my place. Healthy competition has never done anybody any harm.”
Teams for Newlands:
Vodacom Stormers: 15. Conrad Jantjes, 14. Breyton Paulse, 13. Corne Uys, 12. Jean de Villiers, 11. Dylan des Fountain, 10. Peter Grant, 9. JP Joubert, 8. Robbie Diack, 7. Schalk Burger, 6. Luke Watson (captain), 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Gerrie Britz, 3. Brok Harris, 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1. JD Moller. RESERVES: 16. Schalk Brits, 17. Eddie Andrews, Schalk Ferreira, 18. Francois van der Merwe, 19. Justin Melck, 21. Bolla Conradie, 22. Brent Russell.
Chiefs: 15 Dwayne Sweeney, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Niva Ta’auso, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Roy Kinikinilau, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Jamie Nutbrown, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Steven Bates (c), 5 Toby Lynn, 4 Kristian Ormsby, 3 Ben Castle, 2 Tom Willis, 1 Simms Davison. RESERVES: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Nathan White, 18 Andrew van der Heidjen, 19 Marty Holah, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Murray Williams, 22 Anthony Tahana.
Referee: Paul Marks (Australia).
Touch judges: Brett Bowden (Australia), Willie Roos (South Africa).
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa).