In the Vodacom Super 14 series you cannot sulk too long over a defeat. You just have to get back on your horse and move on.
That is how Vodacom Stormers captain Jean de Viliers summed up the mood in the camp before Saturday’s big game against the Waratahs in Sydney. The Stormers lost to the Hurricanes in Christchurch last weekend and they know that from here on in there will be no room for more slip-ups.
De Villiers said: “The guys were very disappointed but in this competition you cannot worry too long about the previous game. You have to concentrate on the next one and need to be up for it. We are well prepared for the Waratahs.”
The captain said what led to their demise against the Crusaders was the fact they couldn’t get out of their own half. “That was definitely a problem for us. In that regard we don’t only blame the kickers but we also blame the kicking lines and the defence to a certain degree.
“As a team and a squad we have been working hard on that aspect of our game this week. Our attacking ability also wasn’t that fantastic although we played against a team with a fantastic defensive record. I think we can still improve on our attacking game.”
The Stormers brains trust this week brought in Wylie Human at wing, reinstalled Gcobani Bobo at outside centre next to De Viliers and moved Peter Grant back to flyhalf. The captain hopes the changes would put the sparkle back into the Stormers backline.
“Yes, we definitely hope so and that is why we picked that particular backline. The backline that plays this weekend is the one that last year played most of the Super 14 together. We know each other well and hopefully we will bring that understanding on to the field on Saturday.”
The Springbok centre said the backs cannot ask for much more from the pack. “We cannot blame the pack because the tight phases have been good throughout the season thus far. We as backs cannot ask for much more. We just need to function better as a team.”
De Villiers said the Stormers cannot afford to focus on the log position now and worry about the fact they have a tough road ahead of them if they want to qualify for the semi-final. “We don’t focus on that situation at the moment. The only thing we can focus on right now is to play good rugby and to get a win. “We are definitely not out of the running. The race for the top four positions is still very tight. We still have a chance and we should just keep on playing to the best of our ability right until the end.”
De Villiers said at this stage it seems the Bulls and Sharks are in good positions to qualify for the play-offs. He said the Lions are only one point behind the Stormers, so a lot could happen still.
“To predict at this stage who will be there in the end is very difficult, but hopefully we could be one of those teams. We would just have to wait and see.”
Turning to the opposition De Villiers said: “The Waratahs are a difficult side to beat in Sydney. The record shows they haven’t lost for 10 or 11 successive games there, so it will be difficult. They are a quality side so we need to be at our best to get a victory there.”