Derby days: Coetzee ready for a Sharks backlash

Mvovo Gallo Images Livewire sharks winger Lwazi Mvovo has played himself right into Springbok contention

Zelím Nel

RUGBY WRITER

ALLISTER COETZEE says the Stormers will have no difficulty “getting up” for a Super 15 conference derby in Durban on Saturday night, especially since a loss against the Sharks in 2010 effectively cost the Stormers a home final.

“We were in a similar situation with the Sharks two years ago, and if we’d won that game, we probably wouldn’t have had to go to Orlando Stadium to face the Bulls in the final,” the Stormers coach told reporters yesterday.

The Sharks beat their coastal rivals 20-14 at King’s Park in the penultimate round of league matches during the 2010 season, and the Stormers headed into the play-offs as the second seeds after finishing three points behind the table-topping Bulls.

They beat the Waratahs in a Newlands semi-final, but had to travel to Soweto for the final after the Bulls beat the Crusaders in the first play-off match.

The 2010 final would have been played at Newlands, if the Stormers had beaten the Sharks, and Coetzee is determined to avoid a repeat situation.

“If you’re going to go all the way through and win the competition, then you have to give yourself a chance to get a home semi-final so that you might get a home final,” he said.

With this in mind, the coach pulled his bruised team off the training field yesterday.

“There are no new injuries to report, but we have to get fresh bodies running out against the Sharks on Saturday,” he said. “We didn’t cancel training, we had a thorough video session, with a split session and one-on-ones – we did the off-field work.

“It’s about recovery because it’s another big physical battle this weekend. People ask how you manage players and get through a competition so tough, this is one way. But that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped working.”

The Sharks are on a three-game winning streak, but they won just four of their first nine matches and, eight log points behind the table-topping Stormers in sixth place, a loss could put an end to their hopes of winning the SA conference.

Coetzee says this makes clinching a win in Durban an especially tricky proposition: “That’s why the Waratahs were so tough to beat because they were also playing for their survival.

“We’re under no illusion, we know it’s a massive game for us, you can never underestimate a local derby.

“It’s going to be a massive ask because it’s almost a rejuvenated Sharks side playing with a lot of confidence. Some of their main players are on good form and there are lots of Springboks in that pack. They’ve got a top quality pack, we know what Lambie brings to the team, look at the form Michalak brought (against the Cheetahs last week), and Lwazi Mvovo is electrifying at the moment and playing with self belief.

“The Sharks were criticised in the first round (for their results) but they were missing their main players, and now that they’re back you can see their true class.”

The likes of Beast Mtawarira, Willem Alberts and Jean Deysel missed the trip to Cape Town in March, which the Stormers won 15-12, but all three are expected to feature on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Coetzee confirmed that the Stormers have expressed an interest in recruiting USA flanker Todd Clever, among others, but that the stalwarts of Province’s Vodacom Cup-winning side would be relied upon to provide cover for both upcoming derbies.

“I’ve been in touch with a number of players since (No 8) Nizaam Carr broke down (against the Cheetahs), including Todd Clever, Danie Rossouw and Ernst Joubert, but we’ve got two more games before the (June Test series) break and I’m going to back my local depth.”


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