STORMERS captain Jean de Villiers says “the party is over” and has demanded a better performance against the Sharks.
The Stormers and Springbok captain expressed his frustration with the Cape side’s error-strewn display against the Bulls, and called on his team to show up at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday with the “right frame of mind” after they lacked the necessary intensity in the first half at Loftus Versfeld last week.
“You can never see a loss as a great thing! But it definitely did make us wake up and realise that the party is over now, and that we need to refocus and get back on task, because that first half was definitely not acceptable,” De Villiers said yesterday.
“I thought that a lot of things lacked, and sometimes you lose the game against the better side, and sometimes you lose just because you didn’t pitch. And we didn’t pitch. That’s never acceptable.
“The pressure will always be there, and the expectation is just so much more this year. Last year, we were under pressure because we didn’t score tries, and this year, we are under pressure because we’ve got a good squad and are not winning. At the end of the day, you need to go out and perform.”
The 32-year-old Bok skipper and rookie Damian de Allende will face a formidable challenge in midfield on Saturday when they come up against Francois Steyn and Paul Jordaan. Juan de Jongh is still not over his hamstring injury and will be reassessed next week before the Chiefs game.
Steyn and Jordaan combined well in their first outing together as a centre pair against the Cheetahs last week.
“I think Frans is a great player. With the little we played together last year and we spent a lot of time together, Frans came back as a totally different player from France. The fact that they made him captain just shows how he has changed. He is a world-class player, and it will help Paul Jordaan a lot with his game,” De Villiers said.
“(Jordaan has) Lots of speed, very talented and also a young guy. I think they are a very good combination, with Frans being the big guy with offloads in the tackle, and he’s difficult to bring down. What they try to do is to get the focus on Frans and create space for Paul on the outside with his speed.”
As expected, Elton Jantjies was retained at flyhalf when Coetzee named his team yesterday, while youngster Frans Malherbe replaces Pat Cilliers at tighthead prop as the coach feels the Bok front-rower can make a big impact off the bench and provide loosehead cover.
De Villiers is backing the 22-year-old Jantjies to come good in Durban after a poor performance against the Bulls, where he missed four crucial penalties at the posts. “You need to understand that Elton has been through a lot in the last couple of weeks, and coming from a different franchise,” he said.
“It is what it is, and I’m never going to comment on an individual’s performances. I just need to get my performances up to scratch and at a higher level. He’s a quality player and he’ll bounce back.”
Coetzee added that he has not yet decided if Jantjies or fullback Joe Pietersen will handle the goal-kicking against the Sharks. Jantjies struggled with his accuracy during a lengthy kicking practice session in Bellville yesterday.
Peter Grant returns to the squad on the bench, and has already made a positive contribution. “We still need to decide on that, but Elton has been kicking the ball and striking it well. Joe Pietersen is a very accurate and successful goal-kicker, but it’s a decision that we will make later in the week,” the coach said.
“The big thing was for Peter to settle in and get the synergy back and understand the way we want to play. It’s just great to have Peter back in the team environment, and Peter has been good to Elton as well, just to give support.”
Nic Groom gets another chance to replicate the form he showed in the Currie Cup after a varied performance at Loftus, with Louis Schreuder getting the nod ahead of Dewaldt Duvenage as the reserve scrumhalf.
“For this weekend, there are things that we like about what Schreuder does, so hopefully if he gets on, he can do that. That’s why Dewaldt Duvenage went to Loftus, because of certain things that he can bring,” Coetzee said.
“I’m pleased with Nic. Look, he has also recovered from the injury, and he is completely over that. He’s done well, pretty pleased. It’s not the perfect game yet, and it was the first time with Elton as well. It’s important to build a combination there as well and that he gets another opportunity with Elton.
“Groomy (was) defensively strong. He also asks questions around the fringes, and hopefully it can improve.
“The big thing is to get the ball away from those messy situations. I think the try that Jean scored was a case in point, where he (Groom) just somehow got the ball away, which eventually led to Jean scoring in the corner.”
15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jean de Villiers (capt), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff. Bench: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Don Armand, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Peter Grant, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.