Chiefs who could rule at New­lands Bok spots up for grabs in derby

Eras­mus will be keep­ing a close eye on show­down

Saturday Star - - SPORT - WYNONA LOUW

The Storm­ers will meet one of their big­gest chal­lenges of the 2018 Su­per Rugby com­pe­ti­tion at New­lands to­day – the Chiefs (kick-off 3.05 pm).

It’s a must-win for the Storm­ers to stay in the run­ning for a spot in the play­offs, while the New Zealan­ders will want to bounce back from their de­feat to the Jaguares, and here are three Chiefs who are al­most guar­an­teed to add to the ex­cite­ment. BRODIE RETALLICK: The fact that his game time was care­fully man­aged against

Su­per Rugby’s sur­prise pack­age last week says a lot about the at­ti­tude the Chiefs have go­ing into the Storm­ers game. Retallick’s in­flu­ence is mas­sive, and Storm­ers skip­per Siya

Kolisi knows that. At the team an­nounce­ment on Thurs­day, he said: “With Brodie start­ing this week it’ll be a dif­fer­ent thing. He plays a big role for them and he lifts their con­fi­dence. We watched the game against the Bulls, he played re­ally well and that in­spired the team.”

Coach Rob­bie Fleck agreed that the All Black mam­moth can eas­ily be the dif­fer­ence in tight games: “He’s a class player, one of the world’s best. He cer­tainly was missed last week­end. He came on later and you could see the dif­fer­ence. Be­tween them and the Bulls it was a re­ally tight game, but there was one guy who stood out and that was Retallick.” Enough said. DAMIAN MCKEN­ZIE: When Storm­ers as­sis­tant coach Paul Feeney de­scribed Mcken­zie as a “lit­tle Beau­den Bar­rett” ear­lier this week, he wasn’t ex­ag­ger­at­ing. Al­though the pacy 10 shouldn’t be de­scribed as a smaller ver­sion of any­thing or any­one (he’s dan­ger­ous enough on his own), if that ‘orig­i­nal’ he’s com­pared to is Bar­rett, than that can never be a neg­a­tive…if we’re talk­ing about the 2016 ver­sion of Bar­rett, that is. Any­way, what Mcken­zie is ca­pa­ble of spark­ing on at­tack is out­ra­geous, but he can set his mates up just as well as he can cre­ate it on his own. He has the hands of a ma­gi­cian. His speed is some­thing else, his vi­sion and aware­ness su­perb. He has this freak­ish abil­ity to make ridicu­lously skil­ful moves look rou­tine.

AN­TON LIENERT-BROWN: Of all the skills this man has shown, it’s his hands that must have Sonny Bill Wil­liams sit­ting a lit­tle less snug on his of­fload­ing throne. His of­fload­ing is at the next level, and what is even more im­pres­sive is his knack for stay­ing on his feet. It was Dil­lyn Leyds who pro­duced the off­load of the year with that spec­tac­u­lar pass against the Chiefs at New­lands last sea­son. And al­though the two sides’ of­fload­ing game will be only one of a num­ber of con­tests to­day, it cer­tainly is go­ing to be one of the most ex­cit­ing ones. It is a mat­ter of fact that the one who fires the first salvo in the scrum will gain a com­mand­ing as­cen­dency in the game. Af­ter a poor show­ing against the Storm­ers, the Bulls have the lean and ever­green scrum­ming prow­ess of Trevor Nyakane back at tight­head prop and it will make for an in­ter­est­ing bat­tle against the ex­pe­ri­ence and might of the in-form Bok veteran Tendai Mtawarira. Bulls loose­head Lizo Gqoboka has en­hanced his rep­u­ta­tion as a scrum­mager in re­cent weeks and he will look to con­firm him­self as one of the best against the ev­er­im­prov­ing man moun­tain Thomas du Toit. The bat­tle of brains and brawn amongst the loosies will go a long way in hand­ing vic­tory to the re­spec­tive teams. The Bulls will fancy them­selves as not only the wis­est but also as the quick­est with two fetch­ers in Marco van Staden and Roelof Smit, while Ja­son Jenk­ins will be re­lied on to bring the ag­gres­sion. But will that be enough to with­stand the brute phys­i­cal­ity that twins

Dan and Jean-luc du Preez bring to the party? Add to that the un­re­lent­ing spirit of Jac­ques Ver­meulen who him­self is never shy of con­fronta­tion and pos­sesses de­cep­tive speed in get­ting to the break­down. Jesse Kriel and Lukhanyo Am thrive on the big stage and are the Rolls-royces of their re­spec­tive bat­tle ready fleets. Both have played with aplomb this year, get­ting off the mark im­pres­sively and have been cat­a­lysts in the hero­ics of their out­side backs.

Kriel may en­joy an ad­van­tage in terms of ex­pe­ri­ence but it is Am who has main­tained con­sis­tency in form with and without ball in hand.

As dan­ger­ous as they both are in find­ing space for them­selves and team­mates, it is Am’s steely de­fence that could tilt this duel, derby and ul­ti­mately the fight for the Bok jersey in his favour.

THE EN­SU­ING war of du­els in the Bulls and Sharks derby at Lof­tus Vers­feld to­day will go a long way in de­ter­min­ing the ul­ti­mate vic­tors of this derby, but it will also serve as a dress-re­hearsal for Spring­bok coach Rassie Eras­mus’ fi­nal squad se­lec­tion ahead of the June In­com­ing se­ries against Eng­land.

Take noth­ing away from the im­por­tance of the derby in the Su­per Rugby con­text as both teams are in a dog fight for play­off berths but one can’t shake off the feel­ing that there will be a higher cause in to­day’s bat­tles.

Round one may have unan­i­mously gone to the Bulls in their 40-10 drub­bing of the Sharks in Dur­ban but the sec­ond round won’t be a given to John Mitchell’s men as they face a Sharks team that has plenty of fire in the belly and pos­sess a bar­rage of knock­out blows as was ev­i­dent in their 38-12 dis­man­tling of the High­landers last week­end.

It will cer­tainly start up­front in the bat­tle of the set-piece with the Bulls ea­ger to re­deem them­selves from the sham­bolic scrum per­for­mance against the Storm­ers while their tried and tested sec­ond row com­bi­na­tion of Lood de Jager and RG Snyman will again need to stand tall.

Ul­ti­mately, the points will come from the backs with Spring­bok fly­half Han­dre Pollard the ar­chi­tect-in-chief for the men in blue while Robert du Preez looks to af­firm him­self as a real con­tender amongst the coun­try’s piv­ots.

But it comes down to how out­side cen­tres Jesse Kriel and Lukhanyo Am shape up, first with their abil­ity to carry and put their out­side backs away and how good they will be in stem­ming the un­re­lent­ing tides of at­tack from the opposition.

It will be dif­fi­cult to ig­nore the ob­vi­ous about Kriel and Am as the two stand­out out­side cen­tres fight­ing for the right to wear that num­ber 13 Spring­bok jersey in June.

Rugby writer

looks at how the du­els match up in to­day’s derby at Lof­tus Vers­feld:

VATA NGOBENI

PIC­TURES: BACK­PAGEPIX EPA

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