Vodacom Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus wants to use Saturday’s first warm-up match for the Super 14 – against the Boland Kavaliers at Wellington – to gain momentum.
The man who is at the helm of the Stormers for the first time, said his team is still very much in the preparation phase.
“We want to use these practice games to get momentum and get a bit of game time, match fitness and contact fitness behind us and obviously to give the guys game time.
“Then obviously there are a few things that you’ve done on the training field that you want to try in a match. We also want to have a look at a few combinations.”
The former Springbok loose-forward said he already knows what his strongest side would look like, but emphasized the door is not closed for anybody.
“In one’s head one is certain who are the favourites for most of the positions but the door is not closed for any player. When you go to bed at night you want to rest assured in the knowledge you have given everybody a fair chance.
“That obviously is not always possible, but we want to try and do that as far as possible.”
Commenting on the fact that several stars, including captain Jean de Villiers and prop recruit Brian Mujati, will be missing due to injuries, Erasmus said coaches always worry about injuries.
“However, the last few years I’ve learnt in the Super 14 that is something you have to accept. That gives you the opportunity to play another guy and if he takes it, great for him.
“It gives so many opportunities to youngsters. One can sulk about injuries, but it’s not going to help you at all.”
Erasmus, who played at No 8 and flank during his illustrious career, said he will be using Luke Watson at No 8 – the position he will be occupying on Saturday.
“I will definitely consider him at No 8. Luke is your typical situation player. He doesn’t play a very structured game and plays according to the situation.
“He doesn’t play to the ball the whole time, but can play it tight and loose and combines his game very well. Schalk Burger is a player in the same mould, but with Schalk it is as if the ball is attached to him with a rope.
“Luke is much more of a situation player.”
Looking at Saturday’s game, Erasmus said the Stormers worked on a lot of things on the practice field. He added that it would be foolish if they didn’t try those things out against Boland.
“We won’t be going onto the field with a huge game plan against Boland as we haven’t done much research and analysis about them. We will be trying to make those things work that we’ve been working on in training.”
Erasmus expects a stern test from Boland, who shocked WP in the Currie Cup last season. The fact that a number of Boland players are feeling aggrieved about the fact they didn’t get a call from the Stormers coach would stoke the fires even more.
“It is just human for players to feel they have a point to prove – it’s the same with the Pumas and the Bulls and Griquas and the Cheetahs. Boland will be at their home ground and the stadium will be packed.
“They will feel they have a point to prove and it will be very good physical preparation. They have a few hard men and they will not be standing back.”
Teams for Wellington:
Vodacom Stormers: Gio Aplon, Tonderai Chavhanga, Dylan des Fountain, Gcobani Bobo, Sirli Naqelevuki, Peter Grant, Bolla Conradie, Luke Watson, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Francois van der Merwe, Andries Bekker (capt), Brok Harris, Tiaan Liebenberg. JD Moller. SUBSTITUTES: Schalk Brits, Schalk Ferreira, Adriaan Fondse, Pieter Myburgh, Dewaldt Duvenhage, Isma-eel Dollie, Corne Uys, Ruaan du Preez, Justin Melck, Robbie Diack, Joe Pietersen.
Boland Kavaliers: Justin Peach, Alvin Hugo, Piet van Zyl, Hein Myburgh, Alshaun Bock, Lionel Cornelius, Neil Papier, Francois Prinsloo, Henley du Plessis, Zolani Mofu, Nico Esterhuyse, Coenie Basson, Andries Human, Pieter Wium, Jean Botha. SUBSTITUTES: Clemen Lewis, Tommy Dixon, Frikkie Spies, Milroy Isaacs, Marnus Hugo, Jacquin Jansen, Kobus Meintjies, John Daniels, Monray Liebenberg.
STORMERS FRIENDLY VS BOLAND – WELLINGTON – 19 JANUARY 2008
Kick-off 18:00 Vodacom Stormers vs Boland
Kick-off 16:30 Vodacom WP vs Boland
Tickets now on sale @ Perel Sports Winkel on 021-872 9661
Boland office 021-873 2317
Main Stand R50 each incl. VAT
Other stands R30 each incl. VAT
Scholars R10 each incl. VAT.