Coach Allister Coetzee has shown faith in his team by making just one enforced change to the DHL Stormers starting line-up for their third tour match of the Super Rugby season.
The Stormers will be hoping for a second tour win this weekend, with the in-form Waratahs lying in wait for the tourists in Sydney, and Coetzee is hoping that this continuity in selection will pay dividends for his side.
“We feel continuity is important and after we’ve looked at the video we realise that where we went wrong was that we created enough opportunities but just couldn’t round off,” said the DHL Stormers coach.
“This is an important game for us and it would be risky to make too many changes for it, the idea is just to improve on last week.”
Aside from the one enforced change at lock (brought about by De Kock Steenkamp’s injury), Coetzee made just two changes to the bench this week; with Don Armand (also because of Steenkamp’s injury) and Gerhard van den Heever joining the matchday 22.
He said: “Eben Etzebeth comes in for an injured player (Steenkamp), so the only real change is the return of Gerhard van den Heever (for Damian de Allende), who we feel will bring the necessary experience for this game, particularly his experience as a specialist wing.
“He brings balance to our back three options for this game. The Waratahs are a team that will probably kick behind us, as all the other teams have done, and Damian, who has played mostly at centre, doesn’t have the experience that Gerhard has in dropping back to deal with the kicks.
“Our defence is very tight and most teams we play against kick behind us. Last week we even saw it from the Blues, who normally run a lot. The last three teams we have played against were the teams that kicked the least in the competition, and yet they changed tactics against us.”
Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies will start from the bench for the second week in a row, with Gary van Aswegen getting his fourth successive start in the all-important No.10 jersey.
Coetzee, pointing to continuity once again, explained further: “Gary has brought the steadiness in that position that we require and we scored two beautiful tries last week and created opportunities for several more.
“I think it’s the right thing from a continuity viewpoint to keep Gary at No.10. But believe me, Elton will get another chance in due course.”
Meanwhile, DHL Stormers captain Jean de Villiers believes the Waratahs are more than a one-man team – having been asked if the Men from the Cape have what it takes to stop rugby league convert Isarel Folau after his impressive form in recent weeks.
“He (Folau) obviously played well last week, but, for us, it’s more what the whole team can bring and what they’re going to offer on the weekend,” said De Villiers.
“The whole Waratahs team played well against the Kings and we will be tested defensively and on attack. My first priority is to stop (centres) Rob Horne and Adam Ashley-Cooper… from there onwards, hopefully we can put up a good performance.”
Despite losing in Albany last Friday, the Stormers have certainly not had a shortage of points-scoring opportunities in recent weeks and De Villiers admitted: “I thought we had plenty of opportunities to actually score tries against the Blues.
“The thing for us at the moment is that we are creating opportunities and putting ourselves in a position to score tries, but we’re just not taking those chances or finishing (it off). That’s been a concern the last couple of weeks, but there’s a lot of positives there as well (in that we’re actually creating opportunities) and hopefully we can just capitalise on that this week.”