Defence going to be crucial for Vodacom Stormers

PUBLISHED: April 17, 2008

Vodacom Stormers captain Jean de Villiers says defence will be crucial in Saturday’s Super 14 clash between his side and the Hurricanes at Newlands.

And Stormers fitness and conditioning coach Jacques Nienaber agrees.

The Stormers’ defence has been impressive this year and they have conceded 13 tries in their 8 games thus far.

Nienaber was quick to point out he was not in charge of defence, but admitted that he was happy with the effort thus far. He said the defensive system was devised by coach Rassie Erasmus and that the rest of the coaching team each has his own responsibility.

“I am responsible for the fitness on defence with Greg Hechter, the other fitness and conditioning coach. Rassie for instance is responsible for defence from lineouts and Brendan en Allister from scrums – each guy has his own small part that he is responsible for.

“We are standard keepers of a part of the defensive system. But if I should judge our defensive effort thus far I must say the guys are doing a great job.

“Rassie put a great system in place. I would say 99.9% of defence is about the players’ attitude. The Bulls have exactly the same defensive coach of the past five, six years – a very good one – and their players are not suddenly bad, but it’s the attitude thing that is maybe different.”

Nienaber is of the opinion it’s is going to take a massive team effort to keep the dangerous Hurricanes at bay. He warned that it could be suicidal to concentrate on just one player, for instance Ma’a Nonu.

“Defence in my view is a team effort and you have to follow the system. Every team has his stars and if you are going to concentrate on one guy the holes will open up around him.

“The Hurricanes have 15 special players; even their front rowers carry the ball well. They all have unbelievable skills.

“This week we concentrated a lot on defensive skills because they are such a special team. What makes it even more difficult is the fact that they are not as structured as some other teams.

“One guy could do something special, like breaking the line and throw an unbelievable offload and the next guy goes through and scores. We spent a bit more time than usual on defence.”

The former Cheetahs fitness guru heaped praise on the players for their contribution to the defensive effort.

“Their attitude is amazing. Greg and I spoke about it just the other day. You can have the best defensive system and the best defensive coach in the world – you could have everything – but if you don’t have the players you have nothing.

“I would say 70% of tackling is about the attitude, 25% about the player’s skill – a guy should be able to physically tackle – and 5% is coaching.

“But attitude is not something you can coach. The guys should decide for themselves they are not going to be devastating, but they are going to assault the opponents.

“It’s a decision they make within themselves. A lot of people give the coaches the credit, but 70% of the credit should go to the players.”