De Villiers: hard work ahead

PUBLISHED: April 7, 2008

The Vodacom Stormers start the final phase in their quest for a Vodacom Super 14 semifinal berth on Saturday, when they host the Cheetahs at Newlands.

The Cape franchise had an amazing overseas tour, returning with 16 points and sitting pretty on the log with five consecutive home games to follow. The Stormers are in eighth position.

Rassie Erasmus’ charges resumed training on Monday, after enjoying a break of a week after the overseas leg of their campaign.

Captain Jean de Villiers said the important thing now was to sustain the winning momentum.

“The tour was most enjoyable. We are a bunch of nice guys together and its always nice to travel together. We are youngsters, who don’t really have families yet, so that makes it easier.

“If you win, the team spirit will always be good. I must give credit to the guys who didn’t play too – it wasn’t just about the starting XV, but also about the reserves and the four other guys who didn’t play. The coaching staff and medical staff and everybody contributed and we could get the results in the end.”

Self-belief also contributed largely to the success of the team on tour, explained the Springbok centre. “We always knew the first three games were going to be difficult, but we always firmly believed in our abilities.

“But we are only halfway there and we still have a lot of hard work to do. At least we can now tackle our home games with confidence and hopefully we can get more good results.”

De Villiers, who took the reins this season, said the team grew as a unit in every game thus far. “We didn’t get the results in those first three games, but since then we have grown a lot as a team and we’ve learnt a lot in those games.

“From an attacking point of view, we created a lot of opportunities, but our finishing wasn’t good enough. Now we’ve started to finish off our opportunities and the record shows that we can score tries. We got five points in three games overseas.

“Not a single team could score four tries against us this year – an indication that we are on track with our defence too. And we have played all four semi-finalists of last season.

“I think we are on the right track and if we can keep it up, it will go well.”

De Villiers was happy with the upward curve his own game is showing. “There definitely still is room for improvement, but as long at it improves game by game I am happy.

“I needed match fitness and confidence after my injury and hopefully I can maintain things now. I just want to play good rugby.”

The captain urged Stormers supporters to come to Newlands on Saturday in big numbers. “Come to Newlands, because we owe the Stormers’ faithful a few good wins at Newlands.

“We are on track and the ideal would be to create an amazing atmosphere at Newlands. With the backing of our supporters a home semi-final is maybe just a possibility.”