Jean de Villiers believes the Vodacom Stormers need just one moment of magic for them to click and produce the rugby they are capable of again.
The Stormers are playing against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday in a Vodacom Super 14 match. The Cape franchise is going through a tough time at the moment, occupying the 11th spot on the points’ table. They have won only two games and have six defeats.
Last week they succumbed to the Brumbies in Canberra, a match that the Stormers captain said would be one in which his side had to improve their attacking play. Pouring rain throughout the game denied them the opportunity and De Villiers this week said it was impossible for them to try much on attack. “The rain was definitely the biggest contributing factor in us not being able to play the attacking game we wanted to. The conditions were unbelievably difficult and we battled with the handling, but so did the Brumbies and it was as difficult for them.
“It is a pity that it should have happened during the week we said we had to improve our attacking play and we were eager to go show it. Hopefully it will be dry this weekend and we can do it.”
De Villiers acknowledged that the team feels the pressure and are acutely aware of the need for a win. He said though that the mood in the camp is still very optimistic.
“The one good thing about this team is that even though we didn’t get the desired results we never pointed fingers at each other. We stood together as a team thus far and that is very positive in a team context.
“I just feel that one moment of greatness could get the confidence back in the team and hopefully it will happen this weekend. We will stay positive. Nobody goes onto the field to lose.”
The Springbok midfield wizard provided that moment of magic last weekend with a breathtaking solo try against the Brumbies. He was reluctant to take too much credit for what would surely be one of the tries of the season.
“There was a lot of luck involved there,” he said when asked about the try. “What made it difficult was the fact that I couldn’t pass the ball because of the wet conditions, otherwise I would have never scored the try.”
He said the Stormers were not thinking about qualifying for the semi-finals anymore. “I don’t think that is still possible. At the moment we just need to get a win behind our backs. If we can get a win maybe we can start thinking about that later.
“At this stage our focus is solely on what we should be doing on the field. At this stage that boat (a place in the semis) has passed us by.”
He said the players will be going flat-out to get that much desired win. And they believe they can do it even though the Hurricanes are a few notches above them on the log.
“This year’s Super 14 is a very closely contested competition. They are a quality team who will be positive, especially after scoring a try in the last minute last week to beat the Force.
“They have fantastic centres too, so it will be a big test for me and Bobes (Gcobani Bobo).”
De Villiers said he was optimistic that the changes to the side would not affect the performance adversely. “It is great that the guys who have worked just as hard as the rest of us get a chance now to start.
“I believe everybody in the squad is good enough to start and I have all the confidence in them to do just as well as the rest.”
Vodacom Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Wylie Human, 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Jean De Villiers (captain), 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Luke Watson, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Adriaan Fondse, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Brian Mujati/Wicus Blaauw, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Brok Harris, 18 AJ Venter, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Willem de Waal, 22 Dylan des Fountain.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)