The Vodacom Stormers eight will pay the star-studded Sharks pack the respect they deserve but they are keen to stamp their own authority on the game when they do battle in the opening Vodacom Super 14 match at Newlands on Saturday.
That was the message from forwards coach Gary Gold. The Sharks come to Cape Town with an all-Springbok front row comprising Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis, John Smit and Deon Carstens. Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira has been ruled out due to an injury.
The battle up-front is going to be crucial in determining the outcome of the game and Gold is acutely aware of that.
He knows his pack needs to stand up and be counted. He said his pack is not that young anymore and said guys such as Brian Mujati and Schalk Brits have been around the block and he was expecting them to front up.
“No, the Sharks are a good team. We will show them the respect they deserve. Bismarck, Jannie, John… they are a Springbok front row who gave England 40 points. It will be a formidably tough test but what you lose on the string you win on the roundabouts.
“We have played against good scrumming teams this year, for instance Saracens. Brian is back and Skalla (Brits) is scrumming well at the moment. JD is also back from injury and we will be looking to be competitive. I am confident that the boys won’t let their team-mates down.
“With Deon Fourie and Wicus Blaauw on the bench we have fantastic strength in depth. I believe if you are good old enough you are old enough.”
The Stormers haven’t lost a match since Easter Saturday when they narrowly went down to the Blues in New Zealand and a full strength Vodacom Western Province also went unbeaten after the Springboks returned for duty in the Currie Cup. That proud record of 14 consecutive wins helps to instill confidence admitted Gold.
“Yes definitely, no question of a doubt. We realize that even in the Currie Cup when the Boks came back Allister (Coetzee) and the boys went unbeaten. To have 12 or 13 Boks back from international duty helped to inspire the guys. They know when we have our best guys available we can pick a formidable outfit who on the day can beat anybody.
“That is hopefully going to be the case this week. The Sharks also will be brimming with confidence. They are the Currie Cup champions and ended one place ahead of us in the Super 14. It is going to be a tough task this weekend.”
Gold doesn’t think the knowledge he gained of the Sharks stars as Springbok coach would benefit the Stormers much on Saturday. “I don’t really know anything that anybody in the street doesn’t know. Everyone has seen how fantastic Beast came on this year, but Rassie would have done his research anyway.
“We are going to give them the respect they deserve but we want to front up against them.”