Stormers are still on course for a semifinal berth

PUBLISHED: April 12, 2004

The Investec Stormers are still on course for a semifinal berth in the Super 12 competition.

While coach Gert Smal was happy with the four points earned in the 21-20 victory at Ballymore, he immediately warned his charges that they need to improve on Saturday’s performance against the Reds if they want to beat the Blues this coming weekend.

“We got the four points, which is most important. Winning your first game on tour lifts the spirits.

“We know we didn’t play well, but the next few weeks have been made better. That does not mean we will become slack. Looking at the opposition, it’s important that we prepare thoroughly,” said Smal.

The kickers did not strike the ball well. It sliced off the boot and they did not fetch good distances. Tactically it was too easy for the Reds to get the ball,” admitted Smal.

“The scrums went well. The changes I made in the second half were positive. At the lineouts we can make better calls. There was an improvement, but there is scope for a lot more.”

The return of Pieter Dixon at hooker also helped to solve the problems in the lineouts.

Coach Smal this week will have some difficult decisions to make. He will be without experienced wing Pieter Rossouw, who has returned to South Africa to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.

Here Smal will have to choose between the experience of Gus Theron or the raw pace and enthusiasm of Tonderai Chavhanga.

Springbok fullback Werner Greeff is likely to be declared fit after recovering from a groin injury, giving Smal options at flyhalf and fullback for Friday’s Super 12 clash against the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland.

“Werner is looking very good,” Smal said. Although the coach didn’t want to give away too much about team selection, it is possible that Greeff would return at fullback, leaving Smal to choose between Chris Rossouw and an in-form Gaffie du Toit for the No 10 spot.

Another Springbok who should be fit for consideration, is Selborne Boome, boosting the Stormers’ resources in the second row.

Smal hinted that their could be changes in certain positions. “I want to give everybody a fair chance, but at some stage you have to start making a decision. Players must use the opportunities when they get them,” said Smal.