Jean de Villiers hopes a sell-out crowd would help to spur his Vodaom Stormers on to a good victory over the Waratahs at Newlands on Saturday.
The Stormers supporters rallied around the team this season with an average attendance of just more than 44 000 per game. The full house sign hasn’t gone up yet though.
And now the man who leads the team for the first time this season is hoping for that to happen on Saturday. “We hope for a sell-out crowd, although we are not in charge of that,” responded the centre to a question.
“We are focusing more on what we want to do on Saturday and what we want to do on the field than what’s going on in the stands. It will be great if we can fill the stands.
“We had a good outcome for all our games and it will be fantastic to have a sell-out at our last round robin game.”
De Villiers said he enjoys playing in front of the big crowds at Newlands, although players handle it differently. “I don’t know if such a big crowd is an ally -it depends on player to player.
“You try to sort of cut out those extras during the game and try to focus on what you want to achieve on the field. For me it’s always nice to play in front of a nice crowd.
“Some people feel influenced and they are not used to it and they concentrate more on the crowd.”
De Villiers hopes that the proximity of the stands to the playing field and the vociferous home supporters would rattle the visitors. “It feels as if the fans are on top of the field and the players, but we are used to it and hopefully it can affect them.”
The captain said he was looking forward to the midfield battle with the impressive Waratahs duo of Tom Carter and 18-year-old Rob Horne.
“They’ve been doing well. Carter is very solid and a good defensive player. He gets them a lot of go-forward ball from set phases.
“Horne is obviously still young, but he runs good angles and got quite a bit of pace. I think he is an exciting young player.
“As a combination they’ve been functioning well, but we’ve had some tough challenges this year as a centre combination and hopefully we can put up another good performance against them this weekend.”
De Villiers said Horne could definitely brace him for a Newlands baptism of fire.
“He is a quality player and then you don’t take age into consideration. Sometimes the mental challenge of a competition like this gives might be a problem if you are that young – it could be difficult to be mentally up for it week after week.
“I might throw a few chirps at him and see how he responds. He is a good player, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Teams for Newlands:
Vodacom Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Wylie Human, 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Luke Watson, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Brian Mujati.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Pieter Myburgh, 20 Bolla Conradie, 21 Tony Brown, 22 Dylan des Fountain.
Waratahs: 15 Lote Tuqiri, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Matt Carraro, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (captain), 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Dan Vickerman, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Will Caldwell , 19 David Lyons, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Sam Norton-Knight, 22 Timana Tahu.
Referee: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand).