Storm­ers bank­ing on Bekker

Weekend Witness - - Sport -

CAPE TOWN — While the Cru­saders have al­ways run out at New­lands with an air of in­vin­ci­bil­ity, Storm­ers cap­tain Jean de Vil­liers has cau­tioned that his team will not be in awe of the seven-time cham­pi­ons when they host Su­per Rugby’s most dec­o­rated team at New­lands to­day.

“We have re­spect for what the Cru­saders achieved in the past, but when you hit the grass, it’s you ver­sus them,” De Vil­liers said in the build-up to the match. “The re­spect will be there, but at 10 past seven on Satur­day, that all goes out of the win­dow.”

The Storm­ers have not shown any signs of un­easi­ness af­ter their tight five were robbed of the ser­vices of pow­er­houses Ti­aan Lieben­berg and Steven Kit­shoff, and De Vil­liers felt the pack, as a unit, had been su­perb. He sin­gled out lock An­dries Bekker as the stand-out per­former.

“I have to com­pli­ment the pack and those who do their jobs around him [Bekker], to maybe free him up a bit and al­low him to run with the ball a bit more,” the skip­per said.

“You need [fel­low lock] De Kock Steenkamp to hit 20 to 30 rucks for him [Bekker] to do that, and the pack, as a whole, has done well. Hopefully he can just stay fit and we can keep him on the park and get as much game time as we can from him. We have seen how in­stru­men­tal he has been in our per­for­mances.”

The Cru­saders ar­rived in the Mother City with­out three of their stal­warts — Dan Carter, Kieran Read and Richie McCaw — but the tourists have a su­perb success rate at New­lands, even when field­ing sub­stan­tially weak­ened teams in the past.

Con­tain­ing the form of Bekker, ac­cord­ing to Cru­saders coach Todd Black­ad­der, would be key to their success. “We are really con­fi­dent this young team will step up,” he said. — Sapa. THIS WEEK­END’S

FIX­TURES To­day: Hur­ri­canes v Kings 05:35, Chiefs v Blues 08:35, Brumbies v Bulls 10:40, Chee­tahs v Rebels 17:05, Storm­ers v Cru­saders 19:10 To­mor­row: Waratahs v Force 07:05

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