The Vodacom Stormers will not allow the injury setbacks of the last few weeks to dampen their spirit and are still aiming for a good victory when they tackle the high-flying Chiefs at Newlands on Saturday evening.
That was the message from coach Rassie Erasmus. The team had been ravaged by injuries lately and so dire is the situation that Erasmus was this week forced to include the unknown Martin Muller on the bench as substitute lock. The 21-year-old UCT student has not played Currie Cup rugby yet but has represented Vodacom WP in seven Vodacom Cup matches.
Andries Bekker, Adriaan Fondse and George Earle are all injured. Erasmus nevertheless adopted a positive attitude when he spoke about the game this week. And he was looking forward to build on last weekend’s victory over the Highlanders in Dunedin.
“The team showed a lot of fighting spirit after they have been through hard times and that (the win) definitely gave our self-confidence a boost. We have experienced setbacks this week but prepared with the goal to win – not only for the supporters but also for ourselves.”
The Chiefs are looking good for a semi-final win and they have brilliant strike runners and are renowned for their scintillating attacking play. Erasmus agrees that the Chiefs’ dangerous runners will pose the biggest threat.
“You know exactly what to expect but the challenge still is there to stop it. The Chiefs have wonderful game breakers. They have a bit of structure but outside of that it comes down to individual brilliance.
“The big thing against them is not necessarily your defensive system but the one-on-one tackling. If you can create turnover possession every now and again they could be vulnerable. There are not many weak points though and that is why they are third on the points’ table.”
Teams for Newlands:
Vodacom Stormers – 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Dylan des Fountain, 12 Peter Grant, 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Dewaldt Duvenhage, 8 Luke Watson, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Schalk Burger (c), 5 AJ Venter, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JD Moller. Substitutes: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Martin Muller, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Morgan Newman, 22 Tiger Bax.
Chiefs: 15 Mils Muliaina (c), 14 Sosene Anesi, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Callum Bruce, 11 Dwayne Sweeney, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Toby Morland; 8 Sione Lauaki, 7 Serge Lilo, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Toby Lynn, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 James McGougan, 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Ben May. Substitutes: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Sona Taumalolo, 18 Kevin O’Neill, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 David Bason, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Jackson Willison.