It’s simple: Jean-Luc is pivotal
Force aim to finish strong for ‘Sea of Blue’
IT’S BEEN rather gloomy in Perth this week, but it’s got nothing to do with the terrible weather that has hit the Western Australian city.
After a turbulent season, which saw coach Michael Foley sacked halfway through the campaign, the Force have had to deal with a few off-field problems as well, after a couple of alcoholrelated incidents in Bloemfontein following their defeat against the Cheetahs last Saturday.
The Force have only 13 points from 13 matches so far this season – only the Southern Kings and the Sunwolves have fewer points than the Australian side. So you would think that the Stormers don’t really have much to worry about in today’s match at the nib Stadium.
Last weekend’s incidents, and the harsh words that followed, may just galvanise the beleaguered Force side to come together and finish the season off on a high. They have nothing to lose, while the Stormers need a win to secure their place in the playoffs. It’s a classic case of a banana skin match for the Cape side, who have already tripped up once this year when they drew 17-17 against the Sunwolves in Singapore.
Former UCT coach Dave Wessels, who was appointed interim coach last month, said the Force are determined to put their best foot forward game against the Stormers and finish the season on a positive note.
“As a team we are really focused on putting everything into these last 160 minutes of the season,” Wessels told the Force’s website. “We were disappointed not to win in Bloemfontein but felt – particularly in the second half – that we played some good attacking rugby.
“The Stormers are a quality side – with a strong set-piece – and are trying to lock in a home final. We know they will come out really hard, but we are focusing on what we can do to improve on the good things we did in South Africa and finishing strong for the ‘Sea of Blue’.”
The Stormers’ tactical kicking has been erratic this year, while their exits from their 22 have caused them unnecessary headaches.But with 100% chance of showers predicted today in Perth, they will have to be really sharp in the kicking department.
Flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis put in a few top tactical kicks in the victory over the Rebels last weekend. He also contributed 27 points in a great all-round display, and needs to take charge if the Stormers are going to leave Australia unbeaten.
“There is big rain predicted for the next two days, so exits are going to be a big focus for us and need to be spot-on,” coach Robbie Fleck said. “Jean-Luc is a work in progress, and the way he performed in the second half was exactly what we were looking for in a flyhalf. He keeps it simple and keeps our pack moving forward.
“We want him to make those good decisions – when it’s time to run, he must run. When it’s time to find space, he must do that.
“With that sort of weather, you need a flyhalf who has options and need to make good decisions, along with the scrumhalf – play in the right areas, and to keep ball-in-hand and put them under pressure.”
JEAN-LUC DU PLESSIS: ‘Keeps the pack moving forward’