Kobus says selecting right combinations crucial

PUBLISHED: February 14, 2007

Vodacom Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe says selecting the right combinations against the Chiefs for Friday night’s Super 14 match at Newlands would be crucial.

The Stormers are still looking for their first victory of their campaign after suffering disappointing defeats to the Cheetahs and the Western Force. Van der Merwe is contemplating several changes to the side that played the first two games.

While the tight five was the problem in the first game in Bloemfontein, he said that was not the case against the Force and the whole team has to shoulder the blame.

He added that hard men who are prepared to do the donkey work up front are essential if the Stormers want to be successful. “I’ve analyzed the video of the game against the Force a few times and it is clear there are too many players who want the ball, but they are not prepared to do the dirty work.

“We need to get the balance right. We cannot just have a team full of game-breakers, because it just doesn’t work like that. We need a few grafters, players who can work to create opportunities for the game-breakers.

“We need quality first-phase ball to build momentum.”

With Joe van Niekerk out injured, it is certain the physical Robbie Diack would be the starting No 8 against the Chiefs.

Van der Merwe said he was happy with the locks’ contribution against the Foce. “I think we did very well in the lineouts and we contested well with Gerrie and Andries. Our lineouts were good.

“For me the scrums were the biggest worry with all the penalties we conceded there. Then there was also bad discipline at the breakdown points – if you get 18 penalties against you, you just don’t get into the game.

“The Chiefs will be a different kettle of fish. They have a very good tight five and they are a very physical team, so we would really have to think deep and hard about our combinations.”

Van der Merwe agreed that he couldn’t blame the defeat on the tight five. “I think we conceded a lot of our own possession, especially when we went wide.

“I think the back three also missed a number of balls from kicks and the try we conceded just before halftime when Gio made that mistake cost us dearly. I don’t think one could only blame the tight five. It was the team’s performance in general.”

Van der Merwe will announce the 22-man squad for the Chiefs game on Thursday. The Stormers have a rest day on Wednesday.