Vodacom Stormers ready for tough tour

PUBLISHED: March 23, 2006

Vodacom Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe says they would regard every single game on the away leg of their Super 14 campaign as must-win games.

The Vodacom Stormers on Thursday depart for Perth, where they will take on the Western Force next weekend in their first game of the arduous overseas leg of the competition.

The Stormers, who are in tenth position on the log, must also take on the Blues in Auckland, the Chiefs in Mt Maunganui and the Reds in Brisbane before returning home.

Van der Merwe said it is going to be a difficult tour. “There is a massive amount of pressure on the guys now. Unfortunately the Cats and Sharks are coming back and they play the guys who are at the bottom of the log at home.

“The Sharks are playing well at the moment and they are playing the Reds and Force at home. There is only one thing left for us and that is to target all the overseas games as must-wins.”

The Stormers performed disappointing at home, but Van der Merwe said the team spirit was still good. “I think the team spirit is one of the positive things about this team. It is very good.

“In adversity it is difficult to always be positive, maybe it would be a good thing for us to get away from home.”

He said he still has high hopes for the team and believe the players have the talent to become a very strong side. “I can honestly say if you look at the team and the way they played for 40 minutes against the Cheetahs on Saturday, it is an extremely talented team.

“The average age of this team is 23 years old. There might be experience in terms of Jean (de Villiers) and Schalk (Burger) who are Sprinbgboks, but they still have young heads on their shoulders.

“Also, if you look at the likes of a JD Moller, Schalk Brits, Ross Skeate, Andries Bekker, Justin Melck, Schalk Burger, Luke Watson, and behind them Paul Delport, Peter Grant and Naas Olivier.

“If you keep these players together maybe for two, three years like the Bulls have done with their squad, and maybe get enough depth and strength in certain positions, you will reap the results.

“I think 2007, 2008 is really the seasons where you will see these guys coming through. Whether I am here or the Director of Rugby is here does not matter.

“I still think that squad will be a phenomenal squad, irrespective of what happens.”