The 2011 Vodacom Super Rugby competition represents a completely new format and challenge for all participating teams.
The all new, longer format which sees participating teams play in their country conference, ensures local teams play each other at least twice, both home and away. That means that the DHL Stormers will play the Sharks, Bulls, Lions and Cheetahs, home and away in competition phase.
“It’s almost a Currie Cup within the Super 15” comments Allister Coetzee. “It’s a whole new ball game. Local derbies are always tough, physical, closely contested affairs. To do well in the competition you need to do well in your conference and given the home and away local team format, you need to do well against the local teams. It’s is going to be a dogfight for that top spot. We travel well and generally play well against the New Zealand and Oz outfits, but the extra local derbies mean that you need to be properly conditioned and able to maintain and withstand the level of physicality over a greater period.”
With the longer format seeing the competition stretching into July, player depth is also going to be crucial to a team’s chances. “We worked hard on bringing depth through our ranks over the past few seasons and have a number of talented youngsters pressing hard for places in the squad” adds Coetzee. “We have a settled senior squad that has grown and learned from their experiences last year. Our junior teams all did well and there are some good prospects there as well. It’s healthy to have players pushing each other for positions. We don’t want players in comfort zones.”
Pre-season preparations for the DHL Stormers are progressing well and a tough schedule of warm up games will allow the coaching staff to assess their options and adequately prepare the athletes with game time. “Pre-season conditioning has progressed really well with all the players really motivated. We start match preparation with contact sessions against UCT and Maties and then play the Neo Africa Tri Series against the Lions and Sharks, before rounding off our preparation against Boland. So all our players will have some solid game time before the competition starts” says Coetzee.
A long season of Super Rugby lies ahead. “We are looking forward to 2011 and playing in front of the Faithful. It’s going to be a very tough and all new competition and we are preparing as hard and cleverly as we can for it” ends Coetzee.