Vodacom Stormers supporters will have to wait until Wednesday to find out whether Springbok wing Bryan Habana will be in action against the Sharks in Durban in the Cape franchise’s important Vodacom Super 14 match on Saturday.
Coach Allister Coetzee said the wing, who is in his first season with the Stormers, is still experiencing a bit of discomfort. The good news though is that nothing is broken.
“We’ll definitely make a final decision on Wednesday. It’s a knock to the ribs and we’ll make a final call on Wednesday. A lot of people have played with (sore) ribs before.
“Schalla (Schalk Burger) had a similar type of injury at the start of the year. There’s still a bit of discomfort, but nothing is broken, it is just a hard knock.”
The coach was asked whether it was worth risking one of his match-winners in this game. “I think it’s an important game and that was my whole talk even last week. You must forget about the external factors like log points, semi-finals, the Bulls, the ref, the only thing that matters is to make sure that we win on the weekend.
“It’s crucial and we have to make sure we get the things on the field right, and the more you win the more you open the door wider and then when you find yourself in the semi-finals then you can revisit your goals.
“At this point in time it’s the Sharks, and it’s one of those local derbies that are going to be hard and it’s going to be tough and a physical encounter. The Crusaders, after viewing the tapes, it’s really been a helluva physical affair.
“And I think that the Bulls and the Sharks was also a physical affair. It was a real forward battle and I see it going the same way again this weekend, another forward battle.”
The coach made it clear that the Stormers are not resting on their laurels after the impressive performance against the Crusaders. They still want to improve.
“We’re going to go play rugby, we’re not going to party. We are serious about improving on this weekend’s game. We got tested at the set piece. You mustn’t take anything away from the Saders.
“People say they’re not that experienced anymore, but geez they scrummed well. I think we dominated lineout time and we had much more ball in hand than them, which is a testimony to the attack that’s improved so much, and we only kicked one more kick than them.
“It’s not a bad Crusaders side, but the derby is always tough, it’s not a matter of whose spoiling whose party, we have to go there and do a job.”
Coetzee says the Stormers have options in case Habana was forced out of the game. “We’ve got options. Tim Whitehead has never dropped us, and he’s covering that position and he’s training in that position, so if Bryan Habana doesn’t make it it’s an opportunity for him to get the 11 jersey.
“We’ve got Fabian who is a specialist winger, and Frikkie Welsh, and I’ll always look at the opposition before I make my selections and base my selections on being able to answer the questions we’ll be asked most.”
The coach also said Joe Pietersen, who has been out injured, is rapidly returning to full fitness and that he could be considered too. “Joe started training this week and it’s looking a lot better. He came through a test this morning with flying colours and he could be considered as well.
“(Prop) Wicus (Blaauw) will also be back in another fortnight, so it’s good to see we’ll get some injured players back who have been doing duty as number one players.”
The Stormers team will be announced on Wednesday.