Neil de Kock and his Investec Stormers are on a mission in the Arena Stadium, Palmerston North on Friday when they take on the Hurricanes in a Super 12 match in the fifth round.
They need to get back on the winning track after two consecutive defeats on the overseas leg of their campaign. They won’t have it easy against opponents who had an impressive start to the season, winning their first three outings before coming a cropper against the Bulls last week.
The Stormers would not only have to overcome opponents who are desperate on bouncing back, but also the expected bad weather. The forecast is rain and showers, with strong northwesterly winds.
Stormers coach Gert Smal this week emphasised that that his team was committed and that they are keen to get back on the winning track. The players know that they need to pull this game off if they want to stand a realistic chance of qualifying for the play-offs.
“People shouldn’t question our commitment. We work through the night to ensure positive results,” Smal said.
“But I realise we will only get people on our side if things are going well on the field. That is why I am hoping that this match will be the turning point of our season.”
The Stormers have a proud record to defend on Friday. Since 199 they have recorded at least one win on tour.
If they play to their potential, a win is not out of their reach and they can tackle the home stretch of the competition with a lot of confidence.
Hurricanes: 15 Riki Flutey, 14 Hosea Gear, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Tana Umaga (captain), 11 Ma’a Nonu, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Ben Herring, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Luke Andrews, 4 Ross Kennedy, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Joe McDonnell. Replacements: 16 Joe Ward, 17 Tim Fairbrother, 18 Kristian Ormsby, 19 Chris Masoe, 20 Shannon Paku, 21 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 22 Lome Fa’atau
Investec Stormers: 15 Werner Greeff, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Jean De Villiers, 10 Chris Rossouw, 9 Neil De Kock (captain), 8 Adri Badenhorst, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Luke Watson, 5 Gerrie Britz, 4 Quinton Davids, 3 Faan Rautenbach, 2 Hanyani Shimange, 1 Eddie Andrews. Replacement: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 Riaan Olckers, 18 Rob Linde, 19 David Hendricks, 20 Bolla Conradie, 21 Gaffie du Toit, 22 Tonderai Chavhanga.
Kick-off: 19.35 (09.35)
Referee: George Ayoub (Australia).