Stormers optimistic for finals spot

PUBLISHED: May 10, 2004

The Investec Stormers are cautiously optimistic about their chances of qualifying for what would be a first-ever Super 12 final.

The team departed for Christchurch in New Zealand on Sunday after trouncing the Sharks 31-24 in a cracking final league match in Durban on Saturday to make sure of the third place in the final league standings.

Now they have to overcome jetlag and mental and physical fatigue if they want to overcome a side that beat them two weeks ago. In that game, the Crusaders played for most of the game with 14 men after No 8 Mose Tuiali’i was sent off.

However, coach Gert Smal summed up the mood in the camp when he said: “If we say it is impossible, we might as well stay at home.

“It is a very exciting opportunity to be in the semifinals and very important to go over there with the right mindset,” said the former Springbok loose-forward.

Smal said the side would “manage” the effects of travelling. “The players will have the first day off after our arrival for recovery and treatment.”

The Stormers have not been consistent enough this season to be regarded as favourites for what surely would be a tough task. However, on Saturday in Durban they showed they have the character and maturity to overcome adversity.

“It was good for the side to go to Durban to qualify for the semifinals in an away game and under immense pressure. It is not any team who can go there and collect five league points.

“On a psychological level the players know now they can win away from home. And it would be of great value in a game where the pressure will be as intense as against the Sharks,” added Smal.

Meanwhile, concern about the knee injury prop Eddie Andrews sustained against the Sharks led to the inclusion of Investec WP loosehead prop JD Moller in the touring side.

Andrews’ knee is very stiff and the Stormers camp would monitor his progress before making a decision about his availability for the match.

“We are a bit worried about Eddie and decided to take JD along as a bit of an insurance policy,” said the coach. Centre Gavin Hume has also travelled to Christchurch with the 22 that did duty in Durban.