The DHL Stormers landed in Christchurch late on Monday night (NZ time) and have since been greeted by some pretty inclement weather conditions in New Zealand.
www.iamastormer.com caught up with DHL Stormers skipper Jean de Villiers on Tuesday night (NZ time) to find out about their trip, Pat Cilliers’s non-birthday, the weather conditions and the retirement of Proteas skipper Graeme Smith.
(1) Jean, how are things in Christchurch after the tough traveling schedule? (The team left South Africa on Sunday afternoon and flew to Christchurch via Sydney – landing late on Monday night, NZ time.)
“Aside from a few bleary eyes at breakfast this morning, things have gone well so far. Pat Cilliers was a bit grumpy, not being able to celebrate his birthday as we left before his birthday in South Africa and landed in New Zealand the next day!
“But, seriously, we are always well looked after on our flights by the excellent staff and our management have ensured that we’ve been given enough time to recover before training.”
(2) How was training today (Tuesday – NZ time)?
“It’s been really cold, wet and windy here the past few days and it turned for the worst today… in fact, we lasted only twenty minutes at training. We decided to postpone training as it wasn’t ideal conditions to get things done. I must say it’s probably some of the worst weather I have experienced in New Zealand and it’s meant to be summer here!”
(3) Facing the Crusaders in their own backyard is no easy task. How is the team approaching Saturday’s game (kick-off 08h35 – SA time)?
“Simply put – it’s a great challenge for us against a very successful Super Rugby franchise. Playing against the Crusaders is really tough, as you can note by the fact that no South African team has won there in ages. But that also means it’s a great challenge for us. If we win there we would have achieved something special, something we haven’t achieved in the past and it’s a great challenge for us as a young squad.”
(4) The big news from back home in Cape Town is that Graeme Smith has announced his retirement from international cricket. What are your thoughts on that, Jean, as an experienced captain of your country and Super Rugby franchise?
“Schalk (Burger) and I are actually watching the game here in the room as we speak. It’s sad, seeing such a legend retire and not being able to lead South Africa anymore, but he’s given so much to his country and the game of cricket.
“Having led his country for so long from a young age is a great achievement, but he’s moving on to the next phase of his life, with his young family, and we wish him all the best with that. Hopefully he can score a fantastic hundred and save this Test for us and that will finish up a career that has had so many highs.
“To Graeme Smith, from the DHL Stormers team, all the best for your last Test, your last innings and for life after cricket.”