Whilst the rest of the competition battled it out in some epic clashes, the DHL Stormers had their feet up last weekend enjoying their first bye of the 2012 Super Rugby campaign.
The week off is always welcomed by the players, but DHL Stormers forward coach Matthew Proudfoot knows that the break can be a double-edged sword.
He said: “There are both pros and cons to having the week off. It can halt momentum, but we were very happy to have it. We have had quite a few niggles in the squad so it gave the guys the chance to get back into top shape.
“We have used the time to work with the backline and the forwards separately. It gave both time to work on different elements and to bond. It has been a very good week and we are now looking forward to getting back on the pitch.”
Their return to action comes against the formidable challenge of the Blues who will be full of confidence following their impressive 29-23 victory over the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus. Proudfoot is expecting the men from Auckland to come with an intense game plan on Friday. He said: “The Blues really impressed me last weekend, particularly their power. They managed to stop the Bulls maul which is very impressive. They contested well at the breakdown and they got in the faces of the Bulls players. Teams don’t just go to Pretoria and win so we know we are facing a strong side on Friday.
“We are expecting a similarly intense clash. There is always spice between South African and New Zealand sides and it should be physical and powerful. Whenever we face a side from New Zealand we will have to bring it physically and Friday will be no different.”
Good news this week is the return of forwards Rynardt Elstadt and Deon Carstens to the Vodacom Cup fold. Matthew knows the importance of depth in this competition and was delighted to have them back in the mix. “It is vital to have depth in the tight forwards. You need to have a few to get through the competition. We have got great depth in the locks and to have Wicus Blaauw and Deon Carstens back gives us extra depth in the front row. We are also expecting Deon Fourie back in the next few weeks so we are happy with the depth we have in these positions at the moment.”
Tickets for Friday night’s clash against the Blues are available now at Postnet stores, on ticketpros.co.za and at the Newlands ticket office. The game kicks off at 19:10.