While there’s a cloud of uncertainty over two of the Crusaders’ key players, the Investec Stormers will start their preparations for the semifinals of the Super 12 series apparently without any injury worries.
There was concern after the Cape-based team’s victory over the Sharks regarding Eddie Andrews’s stiff knee, but the dependable prop took part in a swimming session and gymnasium workout, without apparent discomfort.
Hennie Bekker, the Stormers’ technical analyst who is acting manager, says he’s confident that Andrews will be able to start as tighthead in the match in the Jade stadium on Saturday.
If that’s possible, coach Gert Smal, will have the luxury to choose the same side that beat the Sharks and qualified for the semi-final against the Crusaders – four times winners of the Super 12 series.
It doesn’t look if his counterpart, Robbie Deans, will be able to do the same. He’s still waiting to see if two of his key players, Justin Marshall (scrumhalf, hip muscle injury) and Chris Jack (lock, concussion), will recover in time.
Marshall has often won matches for both the Crusaders and the All Blacks, while Jack’s work rate in the line-outs, tight phases and kick-offs is unmatched.
The Investec Stormers who played for the Bok team against the All Blacks in Dunedin last year, will still remember how critical Jack’s role was in the final quarter of the Three Nations’ Test, which his side won.
Get rid of the jetlag
The Stormers tried their best in cool, rainy weather to get rid off the jetlag following a 24 hour journey from South Africa to Christchurch and will start their preparations on the field on Wednesday afternoon (New Zealand time.)
Off the field, the Capetonians have had to make some nifty moves to anwer all the questions posed by the media. The Stormers are the first South African side in three seasons to qualify for the semi-finals.
Bekker says numerous New Zealand journalists gathered at the Stormers’ hotel to get reaction to an allegation that Marius Joubert made a racist remark to the Crusaders’ eighthman, Mose Tuiali’i a fortnight ago.
“Gert emphasised that the allegation had no substance and said he didn’t want to get embroiled in a debate. Marius also spoke to the media and again denied the allegation,” Bekker said.
“We will have to wait and see how the New Zealand media is going to react.”
Tonderai Chavhanga only joined the Investec Stormers on Tuesday evening after he had to remain in Sydney because of a problem with his visa.