Victory in their Super 12 match against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday is non-negotiable for the Investec Stormers.
The defeat to the Chiefs last Friday in Hamilton derailed the Stormers’ campaign somewhat. Tomorrow they will be without inspirational leader Corne Krige against a Crusaders team who seems to be peaking at just the right time.
Springbok lock Selborne Boome has been handed the task of rallying the Stormers, who hold a tenuous third place after last weekend’s loss to the Chiefs and must now face one of the competition’s toughest tasks: taking on the four-time champions on their home ground.
Nine teams have firm or mathematical chances of making the semifinals with two rounds remaining in one of the Super 12’s closest regular seasons.
Coach Gert Smal has confidence that Boome can rally the Cape Town-based team whose two remaining matches will be played on the road. “He is experienced and leads by example.”
The Stormers have never won at Jade Stadium – an indication of the magnitude of their assignment – but the team is quietly optimistic that they can pull off a win this time round.
Said Breyton Paulse, who returns to the side after two weeks in the cold: “There is always a first time.”
The pragmatic Boome is under no illusions though. He said last week’s performance against the Chiefs was one that you as player want to forget as soon as possible.
“That belongs to the past and now we have to find a way to lift our game. The Crusaders have been an excellent team for a long time now and we know how difficult it is to win at the Jade Stadium.
“However, I believe we can win there. But to do that, we must ensure that we do the basics right from the kick-off.”
Teams for Christchurch:
Crusaders: Scott Hamilton, Marika Vunibaka, Aaron Mauger, Caleb Ralph, Daniel Carter, Cameron McIntyre, Justin Marshall, Mose Tuiali’i, Richard McCaw, Chris Jack, Brad Thorn, Reuben Thorne (captain), Greg Somerville, Tone Kopelani, David Hewett. Reserves: Slade McFarland, Chris King, Sam Broomhall, Johnny Leo’o, Jamie Nutbrown, Casey Laulala, Ben Blair.
Investec Stormers: Werner Greeff, Breyton Paulse, Marius Joubert, Pieter Rossouw, De Wet Barry, Chris Rossouw, Neil De Kock, Adri Badenhorst, Schalk Burger, Selborne Boome (captain), Quinton Davids, Hendrik Gerber, Eddie Andrews, Pieter Dixon, Daan Human. Reserves: David Britz, Pat Barnard, Willem Stoltz, Pierre Uys, Johannes Conradie, Gaffie Du Toit, Gus Theron.
Kick-off: 09:35 (SA time).