Forwards coach Matt Proudfoot praised the impact of the DHL Stormers pack during Saturday’s 20-15 Vodacom Super Rugby win over the Reds.
The Stormers won a titanic struggle against the 2011 Super Rugby champions – despite missing a host of first-choice forwards in the form of Deon Fourie, Pat Cilliers, Frans Malherbe, De Kock Steenkamp, Andries Bekker, Rynhardt Elstadt and Duane Vermeulen.
In the absence of the above-mentioned players, fit-again hooker Tiaan Liebenberg slotted straight back into the starting line-up, as did veteran tighthead prop Brok Harris and starting second row debutant Gerbrandt Grobler.
“For four out of the tight five it was a new game for them. Where guys playing beforehand had rhythm, the tight forwards now need a bit of time to warm up,” said Proudfoot at Tuesday’s post-training press briefing at the HPC in Bellville.
“It was nice to see the intensity from the guys but there is still a lot of detail to tighten up. We spent a good session on the scrum today on some detail.
“Tiaan (Liebenberg) is an experienced campaigner and he brings a lot of leadership. If you look at that pack they are all workers and great leadership from Tiaan and that’s what every forwards coach wants.
“You don’t want too many voices you want workers and that’s what we had on Saturday. The pack worked and the work-rate on defence was superb.
“Siya (Kolisi) and Nizaam (Carr) played really well together. I was really happy with Nizaam and Don (Armand) had a great work-rate.”
Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth started in the No.5 jersey and he delivered a commanding line-out performance which saw him walk off with the official Vodacom Super Rugby Man of the Match honours.
“Eben took to the role very well. How he changed it up was very good, he went from four-man to five-man to full line-outs, so to have that level of detail early on was good. I was very proud of him,” enthused Proudfoot.
“It’s a role that he will grow and develop into. Every generation stands on the shoulders of the generation before and Andries’ mentorship of Eben has been massive.
“In the play-off race last year we tried to push Eben into the five role ands he wasn’t very comfortable there and not a year later he started a game there successfully, so that mentorship is crucial and Andries has been massive there.
“You as a coach can give structure and leadership and make sure the cogs are working but advice from a senior hand is vital and I’m grateful Andries has been there.
“I’ve ever equated the two of them. Eben is a player who will astound us in the future. We just need to allow him to develop and not force him into that role.”
This weekend the Stormers will turn their attention to the Southern Kings, with the Men from Port Elizabeth coming to DHL Newlands for their first taste of Super Rugby action in Cape Town (kick-off 17h05 on Saturday).
Speaking about facing the Kings, Proudfoot said: “They have a great work-ethic and they are robust. They don’t take a step back for anybody. Their mauling is exceptional, their line-out contesting is very good and they have a very good scrum. Our detail will be tested in the forwards battle, so we’re spending a lot of time on detail.
“This game is going to be a South African derby about pride and about physicality. It’s going to be a good game. They are playing well and Demetri (Catrakilis) has a lot of confidence,” added the Stormers forwards coach.
“What was nice for us was getting a win under the belt (against the Reds). You don’t have to start at square one again, you can move forward, so this week’s preparation has been a lot better for us.”
Meanwhile, Proudfoot confirmed on Tuesday that all-action forward Deon Fourie (ribs) and lock De Kock Steenkamp (chest) would both be fit for selection this week – depending on how Wednesday’s final training session went.
The DHL Stormers team, to face the Kings, will be announced at lunch-time on Wednesday (May 29).