The Vodacom Stormers resume their preparation for Saturday’s opening Vodacom Super 14 match against the Sharks at Newlands on Monday when they get together at their training headquarters in Bellville.
The most important injury concern at this stage is over big Fijian wing Sireli Naqelevuki. He received a massive blow against the chest in the warm-up game against Boland at Wellington two weeks ago. Naqelevuki didn’t take part in a single contact session since then.
According to Stormers media manager Frikkie Erasmus the management team will get more clarity on the wing’s situation on Monday.
Coach Rassie Erasmus last week mentioned Joe Pietersen, Conrad Jantjes and even Nick Koster as possible replacements in case Naqelevuki is not fit enough to play. Tongan utility back Alipate Fatahefi is another option.
The Stormers know Saturday’s pipe-opener is a huge one. They would want to avoid a repeat of last year’s disastrous start to the campaign when they lost the first three games. The Cape franchise came with a massive onslaught in the second part of the competition but eventually narrowly missed out on a semifinal berth.
Erasmus, however, is of the opinion that although Saturday’s game against the Sharks is important, it is not the game that would determine their fate in this year’s competition.
“There will be a lot of hype about the game, and yes, both teams would like to win and we have home advantage. Fortunately last year showed us that you can come back. We lost out first three games and after that suffered only one defeat,” said Erasmus.
“With that I’m not making excuses in advance. We will be very disappointed if we don’t win. But our focus will always be on the next game.
“For now it’s the Sharks, but we won’t give up if we lose. Thereafter the focus will be on the Reds. Each game is as important as the one before.
“One defeat won’t be the end of the world because we will lose at some stage.”