With the start of the DHL Stormers’ 2013 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign just two weeks away, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee is looking forward to his charges getting more game time this coming weekend.
The DHL Stormers will face the Regent Boland Cavaliers at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday (kick 14h45), and Coetzee will welcome back some big guns in the shape of Deon Fourie, Andries Bekker, Siya Kolisi, Rynhardt Elstadt and Jean de Villiers.
“It’s important for Deon, Siya, Rynhardt, Andries and Jean to get game time. You can run as many training drills as you like but when it comes to playing it’s a different (kind of) conditioning so we want to get that part right,” said Coetzee.
“It’s important this weekend that we play more rugby,” he added. “There will be opportunities to play more rugby. Our objective is to play more than usual, even in our own half. It will help with (the) match-fitness, accuracy and the launch of our attack.”
The DHL Stormers lost their first warm-up match – in injury-time against the Cheetahs last weekend – but Coetzee is searching for more than a simple ‘W’ this coming Saturday.
He explained: “It’s a very important game this weekend. We were disappointed in our work-rate (against the Cheetahs), but it was important for us to play away from home because your difficult games will be away (from home) in Super Rugby.
“We could have done better in carrying to better positions and in terms of (our) intensity. We were disappointed in the attitude and a lot of things we did on the field, but being that it was our first game… I want to see a big step us this week and the players realise that.
“We’ve worked hard this week to get everything right,” added Coetzee, “it’s not about who we play against but rather that we become accurate, use the ball and grow our attack.
“It’s a matter of building an upward curve and make sure the graph picks up every time we play.
“We’re aware that our opening game is a big one away from home and it’s going to be a tough one but everything we do, including Saturday’s game against Boland, is aimed at getting it right on the 22nd (against the Bulls).”
Stormers squad captain Schalk Burger is still sidelined this week – as he battles with a calf strain – and centre Juan de Jongh (hamstring) is also unavailable for selection, but the presence of fit-again flankers, Kolisi and Elstadt, put a smile on their coach’s face ahead of their second, and final, pre-season fixture.
“It’s unfortunate about Schalk, but it’s good to have Siya Kolisi and Rynhardt Elstadt back and fully fit with no niggles and nothing holding them back,” said the DHL Stormers boss.
“Especially in the loose forward positions you want to see your players operate at 100 percent and I’m happy that it will be Duane Vermeulen’s second game which gives us continuity at No.8.
“Depth is vital that’s why we try to grow a bigger squad. It’s important to play your best players at the back end of the competition and have your strongest side possible to play in play-offs.”
Of course, having the necessary depth could allow the coach to mix up his selections a bit in 2013 and Coetzee admitted: “With the quality we have I think we can do that and use rotation effectively. You can’t rotate if you don’t have the experience and class in your depth.
“When Schalla comes back we will have a good combination of loose forwards. Siya can play six and seven, Rynhardt can play seven or four, Duane can even play four and six and he’s a good seven – and there’s also Don Armand – so that’s the kind of versatility we’re looking for in our squad system.
“You never win a competition with just a certain number of players alone, you have to tap into your depth.”
* Tickets are priced at R50 and R75 and are available at Computicket, Shoprite and Shoprite Checkers. No tickets will be sold at the stadium on the day but online and shop sales (Shoprite and Shoprite Checkers) will be available until kick-off.