The DHL Stormers are in a good space ahead of their second Vodacom Super Rugby tour match, which will see them go up against the Blues in Albany on Friday (09h35).
Speaking from Auckland on Tuesday night (NZ time), DHL Stormers forwards coach Matt Proudfoot said: “We weren’t quite where we wanted to be against the Hurricanes.
“Some things we did pretty well, but other areas did not go so well for us… We watched the Blues against the Reds and saw their intensity, so we know that we have to be at our best for what is going to be a really big challenge.
“We’re looking forward to facing the Blues; we’re training well, today’s sessions were great. The team is in a very good space – it’s all about making sure that the detail is there and then accepting the challenge against one of the traditional powerhouses of New Zealand rugby. It’s going to be exciting and a big challenge for the boys.”
According to reports, veteran Blues hooker Keven Mealamu is set to return to the starting line-up this week and his combination with fellow All Black Ali Williams will be crucial for the home side – who, like the Stormers, have played eight games so far this season; also winning four and losing four.
“Keven Mealamu is probably the most experienced hooker in New Zealand rugby at the moment – he played his 100th match at DHL Newlands last year – he’s really experienced. Ali Williams is really fantastic at the line-out, but I think they’re a side that can test us both at scrum and line-out time,” said Proudfoot.
“More than that, there’s that proud tradition of the Blues. I remember playing against them back in 1996/97 – when they were the champions. They’re an unbelievable Super Rugby franchise – it’s going to be a big challenge on all levels; technically, physically and also playing at a new stadium.”
Friday’s match will be played at Albany’s North Harbour Stadium – a new Super Rugby venue for the Stormers, whose eight previous away encounters against the Blues have all been played in Auckland.
However, based on the support in Auckland these past few days, the DHL Stormers could have plenty fans shouting for them in Albany this weekend.
Speaking about the support the Stormers have received on tour, Proudfoot enthused: “About 30/40 Stormers fans rocked up at training in a bus today – the support has been really heart-warming for the guys throughout.
“We arrived back in Auckland from Palmerston North (on Saturday) and we were greeted by a ‘Kaapse’ band – it makes the guys smile and makes them feel special to have people take time out of their days to show their support and it makes Cape Town feel a lot closer for us all and adds to the enjoyment of the tour so far.”