There is plenty of enthusiasm in the DHL Stormers camp ahead of their final Vodacom Super Rugby tour match Down Under – against the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday.
The Stormers are chasing a second tour triumph this weekend and assistant coach Matt Proudfoot gave us an update from Sydney on Tuesday evening (local time) after a good day’s training.
Said Proudfoot: “It was one of our main sessions for the week, we had two good sessions (this morning and afternoon) today. Most of the guys trained, so we’re happy with how the day went.”
Lock Gerbrandt Grobler joined the sessions on Tuesday, his first of the tour after arriving in Sydney as an injury replacement on Monday evening (local time), and his presence added to the enthusiasm at training.
“Gerbrandt Grobler arrived all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed last night and he came across well this morning after bonding with the forwards last night. He’s gelled nicely with the guys, but we’re fortunate that he’s been with us before – so he has a fair understanding of the basics. It was just a case of refreshing his memory a bit.
“He’s brought some enthusiasm and a fresh attitude and it’s great to have that in the team. It’s another a young guy who’s getting his chance and that’s always a good thing,” said Proudfoot.
Young Grobler is likely to start from the bench against the Rebels, with Don Armand and Nizaam Carr in line for starting roles against the Rebels – a great opportunity for players to stake a claim for selection moving forward and, also, giving the DHL Stormers team an even more youthful look in the process.
“That’s where a Siya Kolisi came from… that’s where Rynhardt Elstadt came from… an Eben Etzebeth, a Steven Kitshoff – you can carry on. If you’re not prepared to give the young guys a chance they’re not going to deliver on the big stage for you,” explained Proudfoot.
“We’ve been going quite well at set-phase time, so there’s quite a nice structure for him (Grobler) to come into and he will hopefully have an opportunity to express himself should he get on.”
The Rebels have won just two matches in eleven starts in 2013, but, like the Stormers, they have picked up five losing bonus points this season; their recent defeats to the Chiefs (33-39 – two weeks ago) and the Blues (32-36 – last week) showing just how small the margins have been for them.
“They have a very high work-rate with an exceptional line-out. (Loose forward) Scott Higginbotham has been quite robust in their last few games, so we’re expecting quite a challenge from them up front – especially in the set-piece,” said Proudfoot of the Australian franchise.
“We’ve faced quite a bit of pressure on our maul in our last few games, so we need to be accurate in our set-up and making sure we can get the rewards from it.”
Friday is the Stormers’ last game on their four-match tour (kick-off 11h40 SA time), but they will not be changing their mental approach too drastically – despite a win being of the utmost importance ahead of their return to South Africa.
“The Blues game, we were right in there and pushing hard to win it in the last couple of minutes. In the Waratahs game we came back nicely and we just let it slip. Both games (we’ve lost), we felt we’ve been right in the games and pushing very hard,” said Proudfoot.
“We haven’t tried to set unrealistic goals for the guys – we will continue take it game by game,” he added.
“Yes, it’s a one-off game being the last on our tour, but it’s a game against very tough opposition and we’re looking forward to the challenge which the Rebels will pose for us.”
The Stormers team, to take on the Rebels on Friday, will be announced on Wednesday (10h30 SA time).