Vodacom Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus admits to being nervous before Saturday’s big Super 14 clash with the Cheetahs at Newlands.
Erasmus played and coached the Cheetahs and he will be coming up against Naka Drotske, a good friend and his team manager while he was coaching in Bloemfontein.
“Ja, I’m always nervous, whether it’s the Buls or the Hurricanes or the Cheetahs. With the Cheetahs I am a little bit more nervous, because I know the kind of players they are.
“They are gutsy players and I know how they would be looking forward to this game and how they would have prepared for this game.
“I think it is going to be a big challenge for us – I think more than the people out there realise. I say that because I know the players personally.
“Its lovely – just an intriguing game with me knowing a few facts about them and they definitely knowing lots of things about me. It’s a nice challenge. We couldn’t have asked for a better home game to see whether we’ve stepped up a notch or two.”
Erasmus said the Stormers would not focus too much on the opponents and how they will be playing. “The moment you go into those little details you just get strangled there. So we will just focus on our game and plan our game the best we can.
“One or two things might change in the build-up to the game and during the game, but there won’t be too much focus on them.”
He expects the battle at the breakdown to be a critical part of the match. “We chatted about that this week. The Cheetahs got many strengths but one of them certainly is the breakdown with Heinrich and Duanne Jean and Henro later being really competitive.
“The same goes for Meyer Bosman. I know they’ve put a lot of work into the breakdown when I was there and I am sure they would have continued that.
“We also have wonderful guys and I think the way Jeans (de Villiers) has been playing this year he’s been really competitive at the breakdown with our loose-trio and we’ve also focused on that.
“I’m really happy that we got a ref who doesn’t take any nonsense at the breakdown and at scrum time in Mark Lawrence. I’ve been involved with him when I played and also coached. That is an area where he is very clear on everything and it certainly is going to be the big part of the game.”
Erasmus said “it’s a funny feeling” squaring up to Drotske, as they are good friends.
“It’s an anticipating feeling that you doesn’t really know what to expect. We’ve never coached against one another and we’ve never played against one another.
“We just played with one another, so ja, it’s a funny feeling and I guess he’s feeling the same. Last year I was involved with the Currie Cup for one or two training sessions when we played them here.
“I know the players, we used to braai together. It’s a funny feeling, but the same goes for them, so you cannot say it’s a positive or a negative.”
The Cheetahs have won the last two Super 14 clashes between these two teams, so the Stormers want to set the record straight this time around.
Teams for Newlands:
Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Jean De Villiers (captain), 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Luke Watson, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Bolla Conradie, 22 Tony Brown 22 Gio Aplon.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Eddie Fredericks, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Duanne Vermeulen, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Barend Pieterse, 4 Rory Duncan, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Bees Roux, 18 David de Villiers, 19 Hendro Scholtz, 20 Falie Oelschig, 21 Conrad Barnard, 22 Hendrik Meyer.
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)