Coach Rassie Erasmus surprised many a pundit on Wednesday by including Vodacom Super 14 rookie at wing in his Vodacom Stormers team for Saturday’s pipe-opener against the Sharks at Newlands.
The coach, however, has a lot of confidence in the ability of the youngster who only last year made his debut for Vodacom Western Province as a loose-forward. The former schoolboy star now gets his big chance in the big league because of an injury to Sireli Naqelevuki.
“I think he’s got everything to make it at wing and we have a bit of an injury problem with Sireli. He should now jump in and swim but I believe he can do it,” commented Erasmus when asked about Koster.
“Even though he doesn’t come through the game the first time the way he wanted to we still have a guy like Joe Pietersen on the bench. We are keen to see in six weeks’ time when he had been in the Super 14 mix for six or seven games where he stands. There is pressure on him but not as much as everybody thinks.”
Erasmus said he does not intend using Koster in the same way the Stormers use the barnstorming Naqelevuki. “No, he has completely different skills. He is less of a direct runner than Sireli and has other skills which we hope he will bring to the party on Saturday.”
The coach, who is in his second season with the Stormers, had good news about the big Fijian flyer. “Sireli is fine and we could actually have given him until Saturday (to recover from the chest injury he suffered against Boland). If somebody gets injured now or gets the flu he is the guy who would come into the picture.
“We put him through is paces today (Wednesday) and he passed the test but one doesn’t want to meddle with a team that has been announced already.”
Springbok fullbacks Conrad Jantjes and Percy Montgomery have been bracketed on the team sheet, with Naqelevuki bracketed with Montgomery on the bench. Erasmus said Jantjes has recovered fully from the groin injury that kept him out of the warm-up games. “Connie is ready and Percy will be on the bench.”
Erasmus agreed with assistant coach Gary Gold that the Stormers unbeaten record with their full strength team would boost the players’ confidence. “We have gone 17 games unbeaten (including the two warm-up games) with our strongest side. Jean’s record as captain is played 19 games and he lost only 3 – which is a very good one.
“One doesn’t want to bring statistics up all the time but this is what happened with our A group of players. One loses a bit of momentum in the Currie Cup when the Springboks are away but it is not restricted to us – the rest has the same problem and it is just something we should deal with.”