‘Stormers better than last year’
AHEAD of their quarter-final against the Chiefs at Newlands tomorrow, Stormers captain Siya Kolisi says their new mind set is the most important change they’ve made since they met the Kiwi side last year.
During the 2016 quarter-finals, the Stormers took a 60-21 whipping from Dave Rennie’s Chiefs, and tomorrow they will get a chance to erase that unpleasant memory.
At the Stormers team announcement at Newlands yesterday, the Springbok loose forward said that since last year’s play-offs, they’ve been coached to play what’s in front of them, and he believes that is what they will need to get right if they want to make it to the semifinals.
“I think the mind set – that we can’t run into people the whole time and we can’t kick just because we’re under pressure – has changed. Now we’ve been coached to play proper rugby, to play what’s in front of you,” Kolisi said.
“We worked hard during the pre-season and our mind set changed, and I think that’s the most important thing. The coach didn’t want us to preplan, whereas I think previously we knew every part of the field – as in ‘you must kick here, you must run here’.”
At the start of the Super Rugby competition, coach Robbie Fleck said that they had placed a greater emphasis on their physical conditioning and skills, and according to Kolisi, it’s a good thing they did, as the skipper believes that the fittest team in the competition will win it.
“Now we play what’s ahead of us. We’ve trained hard to be fit, you have to be the fittest team to win this competition. Rugby has changed, there’s more ball-in-play, so we had to work on our conditioning,” he said.
Kolisi will pack down in a slightly differentlook loose trio for the quarter-final, with Rynhardt Elstadt replacing Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who drops to the bench, in the run-on side.
On his selection, Fleck added that Elstadt offers “something different” to the loose trio.
“He’s been training very well and he brings something different to the loose trio and to the pack. We all know this is going to be a nice and physical game, so he’ll play his part in that.”
The only other change to the starting team sees SP Marais return to fullback, with Dillyn Leyds moving to the left wing and Cheslin Kolbe at right wing.
Sevens speedster Seabelo Senatla, who produced a few exciting moments in his last few appearances for the Stormers, will provide cover on the bench. On the replacements bench, fit-again props Oli Kebble and Wilco Louw will make their return from injury.
Meanwhile, Fleck concerned about the fitness of scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, who sat out yesterday’s training session with flu.
Fleck said that a decision regarding Vermaak’s fitness would be made today.
“Jano is struggling a bit so a call on him will be made tomorrow (today),” said.
“Fortunately Dewaldt Duvenage has come through from his injury problems so hopefully we will be able to add him to the mix if Jano has to withdraw.”
Fleck also added that he will have to make a tough call at No 9 should Vermaak not be available, as he will have to choose between Duvenage, who hasn’t played since his stint with the SA ‘A’ side, or Justin Phillips, who has gained some game time off the bench with the Stormers, for the starting role.
“I don’t know what I will do there. I have to think about it. We do have Justin and he has done well for us, but we will wait to see what the medics say about Dewaldt,” he said.