Vodacom Stormers ready for first battle

PUBLISHED: February 12, 2010

Allister Coetzee, head coach of the Vodacom Stormers, expects a fierce onslaught from the Lions when the teams do battle in their opening Vodacom Super 14 match at Coca Cola Park, Johannesburg, on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 17h05.

Coetzee is well aware of the intensity of South African derbies and takes nothing for granted, even though his side has shown impressive pre-season form.

“It’s not going to be easy up there. We’ve worked hard and done well in our warm-up games, but it’s in the Super 14 where we will be judged.

“I’ve got a nervous feeling, but I’m also very excited. The players are well prepared, and it’s going to be a good test for them to make the right decisions in a high pressure environment.”

The coach said altitude is not an issue, because he expects all 22 members of the squad to make a contribution. “Everybody talks about altitude at Ellis Park, but there’s altitude for every player that plays there.

“Altitude is not an issue. We know there’ll be a bit of chest burn but we have to play through that. And that’s why you’ve got 22 players, and the backup know that they’ve got to go up and make a change in the performance.

“They’re not just there for emergency injuries. Some of them will play and they’ve got to make a difference when they go on. I can’t see myself not using some of the subs.”

The Stormers view the wily former All Black flyhalf Carlos Spencer as a threat. “Carlos is an experienced player. He brings a lot of experience to the Lions side. They’ll be looking at his experience and he’ll be the go to man at the back to calm the backs down and give them direction.

“He also brings unpredictability to their attack. He’s got a great pass and great kicking skills. He uses grubbers and chips and we have to be prepared for that unpredictability.”

Captain Schalk Burger said he’s expecting the worst from a Stormers’ viewpoint, but hopes the other Lions players aren’t on the Spencer wavelength.

“It’s very exciting for the Lions. There are over 5000 clips on Youtube where he’s doing something brilliant. You can’t prepare for Carlos, you just have to be aware of him.

“Hopefully his team-mates don’t know what he’s going to do next either. He can do some amazing things, but they don’t always come off.”

Teams for Coca-Cola Park:

Teams: Auto & General Lions – Earl Rose, Tonderai Chavhanga, Deon van Rensburg, Doppies la Grange, Wandile Mjekevu, Carlos Spencer, JP Joubert, Jonathan Mokuena, Franco van der Merwe, Cobus Grobbelaar (c), Willem Stoltz, Jacques Lombard, Ross Geldenhuys; Hannes Franklin; Heinke van der Merwe. Reserves: Charles Emslie; JC Janse van Rensburg; Todd Clever; Derrick Minnie; Jacque Coetzee; Burton Francis; Michael Killian.

Vodacom Stormers – Joe Pietersen, Gio Aplon, Jaque Fourie, Juan de Jongh, Bryan Habana, Peter Grant, Dewaldt Duvenage, Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger (c), Andries Bekker, De Kock Steenkamp, Brok Harris, Tiaan Liebenberg, Wicus Blaauw. Reserves: Deon Fourie, JC Kritzinger, Anton Van Zyl, Pieter Louw, Ricky Januarie, Lionel Cronje, Sireli Naqelevuki.

Kick-off: 17:05

Referee: Jaco Peypers