Jean: We owe Newlands a good performance

PUBLISHED: April 11, 2008

Vodacom Stormers Jean de Villiers says his team owes the Newlands faithful a good performance when they take on the Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday in a Super 14 match.

And the star centre believes the Stormers are experiencing something special at the moment. They are riding the crest of the wave after earning 16 points in their four games on tour.

“We attended a couple of functions in the last couple of weeks and the support was just tremendous.

“We are just happy to be home and to play at Newlands.”

The Stormers have an unfavourable track record at Newlands, but De Villiers doesn’t believe that the field is a bogey for the side.

“No, I don’t think so,” he responded to a question. “I think Newlands is a fantastic place to play rugby. I love playing here and I know everyone who plays here enjoys it.

“We know we owe the fans a good win at Newlands, we know we owe the fans good performances at Newland and we know we owe the fans cups at Newlands, so hopefully we can do it.”

De Villiers expects an interesting battle between the two backlines. The Stormers have found their form and have been scoring four tries in three of their games overseas, while the Cheetahs have an exciting backline.

“It will be interesting; obviously they’ve been playing good rugby. I feel the depth in our squad is good from a backline point of view with guys coming off the bench.

“They’ve done well. They’ve got a bit of inexperience I feel maybe on the outside channel and maybe we can try and pressure them there, but I’m looking forward to it and it should be a good challenge.”

Coach Rassie Erasmus also spoke about the importance of playing at Newlands and the pressure of performing at home.

He said he doesn’t believe nerves are a problem for the players – rather the huge interest in the side and everything that goes with it.

“It’s not the nerves thing. It’s the week leading up to a game that’s disruptive in Cape Town. The most important thing for a rugby player, 99.9 % of his job is to play well on Saturday, all the other stuff are side issues.

“Just the way he plays on Saturday is the most important thing. On tour he can only focus on that stuff and only as a team really concentrate on the way they are going to play on Saturday.

“When you are in Cape Town there are things that are disruptive. There are lots of people at training, there is a lot of media hype; there is a lot of other stuff outside of rugby that can distract you.

“But it’s definitely not the Newlands crowd, that’s awesome, it’s definitely not playing at Newlands – that is wonderful, it’s definitely not the full stadium – that is wonderful.

“We have to adapt to that and learn how to handle that and still play well on Saturdays. Maybe with a little bit of help from the other side we can meet each other halfway.”