Britz raring to go

PUBLISHED: February 7, 2007

Gerrie Britz is set to return to the Vodacom Stormers starting XV for Friday night’s Vodacom Super 14 match against the Western Force at Newlands (kick-off 18:00).

Britz was not in the 22-man squad for last weekend’s pipe-opener in Bloemfontein against the Cheetahs. The stomach ailment suffered by Selborne Boome, who started alongside Andries Bekker, and Ross Skeate’s ankle injury opened the door for the Springbok to return.

Not that the big man was too perturbed when he wasn’t named in the squad.

“No, I was not stressed at all. We have a nice big squad and Kobus (van der Merwe) assured all of us that we would get enough game time during the season. He would make use of the squad system,” he said on Wednesday.

“But it is nice to be back, although I knew I would get my chance some time.” The promising Francois van der Merwe is due for a call-up to the substitutes’ bench.

Britz was in the Springbok touring squad for the end-of-year tour last season and played as replacement flank in the final test against England at Twickenham.

Van der Merwe said the Stormers are fortunate to have players such as Britz and Van der Merwe in their squad. “Gerrie has a lot to prove before the World Cup tournament later this year.”

Britz injured his shoulder in the warm-up match between two Stormers sides in Bellville and thus missed the friendly against the Bulls in Pretoria. He was in the “B” side that played against a Boland selection in Paarl in the final warm-up match.

He is nevertheless happy with his physical condition. “It is going well, we’ve worked hard during the off-season and I am happy with my conditioning.”

The 28-year-old former Cheetah star said he was aware of the pressure on the tight five after the display in Bloemfontein. “I understand that one cannot say anything after a performance such as that one.

“I didn’t play against the Cheetahs, but the only thing one could do is put up your hand and give the backline good ball to play with.”

Britz said the World Cup doesn’t even feature in his mind at the moment. “I don’t even think about that now. I don’t think it is your right to play for the Boks, it is a privilege. My first aim is to play decent rugby for the Stormers.”

Britz played lock and flank at the highest level and he reckons his versatility is a bonus for the team he represents. “It helps and it is good for me and the team,” he said.

“I played flank and lock at test level and it gives the coach the benefit of selecting one forward less and an extra back, because I cover two positions.”

Britz on 19 January became the proud father of a baby daughter Mieke-Louise and he is enjoying every minute of being a dad, he said.

“It changes one’s life somewhat. It is a big privilege to become a dad, although we sleep a little less at night! It is very enjoyable though and now I have extra motivation in that I have a family to take care off. That means you need to perform.”

And perform is exactly what he intends doing against the Force on Friday night. He doesn’t expect the Force to be meek and mild though.

“I think they will come with a very physical approach. They have a good, young backline who are not scarce to use the width of the field.

“That is why we gave attention to our defence again this week to get some width on defence. They will come for us, that is for sure.”

This is the Stormers first home game of the season and Britz expects a great atmosphere at Newlands.

“I hope people are going to come out and support us. People shouldn’t panic too much after last weekend’s result. Look at the Bulls.

“They played in the semis last season and also had a poor performance first up. If we can win well this weekend, we could be in the middle of the log.

“Maybe it is a good thing that we got a good wake-up call early in the season. If we win decently on Friday night, it could become a really good season,” Britz concluded.

The Vodacom Stormers team will be announced on Thursday.