‘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.

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