Coach Kobus van der Merwe on Monday was very optimistic about De Wet Barry’s chances of running out against the Cats in the first Vodacom Super 14 match in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Stormers’ captain had knee surgery two weeks ago and took no part in the two pre-season warm-up games. In the absence of another Springbok Marius Joubert, Boland’s Piet van Zyl was the outside centre.
His displays against both the Vodacom Bulls and the Southern Spears were not that convincing and it was no surprise when Van der Merwe was visibly enthusiastic about the prospects of having his captain back for the pipe-opener.
“Yes, I am pleased to say he will do a final fitness test tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. But he it looks 90% that he will be there.”
The tough-tackling centre’s experience would be much-welcomed against a Cats midfield that would probably comprise Springboks Wayne Julies and Jaque Fourie.
Van der Merwe admitted to being stressed out already, even though his team only starts their Vodacom Super 14 campaign on Saturday at Ellis Park.
Van der Merwe said he took a last weekend away from the stress of preparing for the arduous Super 14 competition. “I switched my phone off. I didn’t even take it with. But the stress has already started,” he said.
“Everybody is excited about starting. The time is here now. The bad part was the waiting, but at least now we go into a game. On Saturday we will see where we are.”
Last season Western Province produced some of their best performances of the season against the Lions. But although many of the players of the two provinces will again be in action on Saturday, Van der Merwe doesn’t read too much in those Currie Cup games.
“I think in the local derbies you have more or less the same teams than in the Currie Cup. The players also tend to see it in that light. They are familiar with one another, they know the opponents well and they’ve measured themselves against them.
“Obviously the pressure is a lot more in this competition than in the Currie Cup, especially now with all the factors surrounding the competition.
“But I must say, we’ve in the past done well up there. It’s not as if Ellis Park is our hoodoo ground, but the Cats will be a different outfit than the Lions. They’ve got Wayne Julies and Jaque Fourie and a lot of other guys that didn’t play in the Currie Cup.
“But then again we’ve got Jean and Schalk and some other guys who haven’t played up there too. I think it will be a good contest.”
The Vodacom Stormers side will be announced on Wednesday.