The Vodacom Stormers will be looking to build on last weekend’s win over the Western Force and finish a disappointing Vodacom Super 14 campaign on a high note when they take on the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
After missing out narrowly on a semifinal berth last season the Stormers and their fans had high hopes for this season. A few narrow defeats in the early stages of the season and injuries prevented them from having a real impact though.
They are 12th on the points’ table and have only pride left to play for. Coach Rassie Erasmus this week also spoke about the need to give younger players a chance now to prove themselves and also building for the Currie Cup competition.
“Obviously our goal in the beginning was not to prepare a team for the Currie Cup. We wanted to do really well in the Super 14 but then obviously we realised after the game in the rain against the Brumbies we were out of the mix, so we had to set ourselves new goals. “We started rebuilding with the eye on getting better and try and be competitive in the Currie Cup and maybe win the thing.”
The coach however said some of his players are still in contention for Springbok colours for the upcoming tour of the British and Irish Lions. “I am not saying that any of these guys are not going to be in the Springbok team. “I think a few guys in this side are really in the mix for the Springbok side. I think they have something left to prove and that is why we are picking them as well.”
There will be a bit of edge in the game, with former Cheetahs blindside flank Duane Vermeulen, flyhalf Willem de Waal and the coach himself returning to their former hunting ground. AJ Venter will go full circle as he ends his career where it all started.
Cheetahs centre Corne Uys will also face his former franchise for the first time since he moved to Bloemfontein last season. Erasmus doesn’t think his knowledge of the Cheetahs and their players would be beneficial on Saturday. “ Naka (Drotske) has been there for two years now and got his own systems in place. “He’s got new players and obviously new defence systems and lineouts and stuff, so I think my knowledge is actually the same as that of all the other guys here at this stage.”
The coach expects the Cheetahs to provide tough opposition. “Like us, they are on the up. They are a team that doesn’t change much because normally they don’t have a lot of players out for the Springboks. “It doesn’t vary much between the Currie Cup and Super 14 and that makes them a really tight unit. They get really confident at home after playing the big teams on tour. They beat the Crusaders and the Sharks at home, so they are a little bit on the up, but so are we.
“The one big thing is that we are going to play not at sea level and we are going to get a little bit tired there. They are playing at home and that makes them a little bit more, I wouldn’t say favourites, but tougher to beat.”
Teams for Bloemfontein:
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Danwel Demas, 13 Corne Uys, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Hendro Scholtz, 7 Juan Smith (captain), 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 David de Villiers, 4 Wayne van Heerden, 3 Kobus Calldo, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Wian du Preez. Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 WP Nel, 18 Nico Breedt, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Gerrie Odendaal, 21 JW Jonker, 22 Fabian Juries.
Vodacom Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gcobani Bobo, 13 Dylan des Fountain, 12 Peter Grant, 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Dewaldt Duvenhage, 8 Luke Watson (c), 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Pieter Louw, 5 AJ Venter, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JD Moller. Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Brian Mujati 19 Martin Muller, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Morgan Newman, 22 Tonderai Chavhanga.