The Vodacom Stormers will be going to Soweto to win the Super 14 final against the Bulls, not just to take part.
That was the message from coach Allister Coetzee after his team became the first Stormers side in the history of the Cape franchise to reach the final of a Super rugby competition. They convincingly beat the Waratahs 25-6 at a packed Newlands on Saturday.
Coetzee said he and the squad were very excited about making it to the finals. “I think it’s a great achievement for this Stormer side. They clearly stuck to the promise shown at the beginning of they year.
“You guys (the media) had a go at the Stormers side for not producing, you said they flatter to deceive and it was a great team on paper. I think this is a matured Stormers side that learnt lessons over the years in the Currie Cup and obviously in the Super 14 last year.
“We are just happy. We could be part of history this coming weekend.”
Asked if they have on last big performance left in the tanks after an arduous, challenging season, Coetzee made a comparison to an Olympic athlete.
“Some Olympic athletes are happy to go there to compete and they are content to be in the finals. Others go there to win gold and break records. This Stormers side has a lot of respect for the Bulls.
“They are the best side in the Southern Hemisphere, but we go there to win. We will make sure we are well prepared and give it a full go.”
The coach lauded his troops for yet again resolutely sticking to their defensive systems and suffocating the Waratahs attacks. In two games the team from Sydney could not cross the Stormers try-line once.
“There is great character in this side. We have been speaking about our defence the whole year since last year. You can speak about commitment or whatever adjectives you want to use about defence.
“Tonight was a splendid defensive effort from the team. We kept the Waratahs try-less twice this season and that is commendable. Defence wins matches and semifinals like we had tonight. We pitched up physically and that is not something you ask for. Work-rate and physicality is something we have in this side.”
The former Springbok assistant coach lauded Springbok midfielder Juan de Jongh for his contribution to the victory. The youngster not only scored a brilliant try, but was a menace on defence, tackling everything that moved.
“Juan has played well, but he has to front up against Wynand Olivier next week. He is the Springbok incumbent and played well tonight, but next week would be the test for De Jongh.”
Coetzee said it was fantastic reward for fullback Gio Aplon and flank Francois Louw to get their first-ever Springbok call-ups. “It is fantastic and a great reward for consistent performances throughout the year. It is not only individual brilliance, but about team systems.
“We don’t individual to play well, but we want them to play well within the team’s systems. But the call-up is just reward for those players.”
Captain Schalk Burger, an experienced Springbok who was not selected for the first test of the season, was happy for his team-mates who did make it. “I am obviously very chuffed for Flo. He had a fantastic season and is a great guy.
“He had an outstanding season. Juan and Gio… all of them are top guys and great rugby players to boot.”
Coetzee gave his side a clean bill of health.