The Vodacom Stormers have more than just pride to play for when they take on the Blues in a Super 14 match at Newlands on Saturday.
Coach Kobus van der Merwe certainly thinks so. “We can still finish in the top seven and can also do the Sharks and the Bulls a favour by beating the Blues.”
The Stormers will have to conjure up their best performance of the season if they want to beat the dangerous Blues, who have All Black wing Joe Rokocoko back and who would certainly call on another All Black speedster Doug Howlett off the bench.
Van der Merwe, however, is more concerned about what his team has to do to beat the Kiwi’s. “Conrad (Jantjes) adds a great deal of experience to the backline. We know that they have tall guys covering the lines, but tactically their kicking is not that dangerous.”
The coach said the Blues’ free-spirited, attacking manner of play would suit the Stormers. “It always occurs naturally when two teams with similar patterns of play clash. There will be way more space and turnovers. That will definitely suit us.”
He warned his charges however that they cannot become complacent. “But against a top-notch team like the Blues we cannot afford to give away turnover ball.
“They have dangerous men who can counter-attack from anywhere on the field. But we also enjoy a flowing game. And I think that’s how it’s going to be,” Van der Merwe said.
Stormers captain Luke Watson is looking forward to a good performance from his men after the disappointment at Loftus last weekend. He said they needed to stop thinking about the past and disappointments.
“Our focus is now on the Blues and the men are ready for them,” Watson said.
Teams for Newlands:
Blues: 15 George Pisi, 14 Anthony Tuitavake, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Joe Rokocoko, 10 David Holwell, 9 David Gibson, 8 Nick Williams,7 Daniel Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Troy Flavell (c), 4 Ali Williams, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Derren Whitcombe, 17 Nick White, 18 Greg Rawlinson, 19 Justin Collins, 20 Steve Devine, 21 Isa Nacewa, 22 Rudi Wulf
Vodacom Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Jean De Villiers, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Brent Russell, 10 Peter Grant, 9 JP Joubert, 8 Justin Melck, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Gerrie Britz, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 JD Moller, 18 Francois Van Der Merwe, 19 Joe Van Niekerk, 20 Bolla Conradie, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Corne Uys
Referee: Matt Goddard (Australia)