Cape Town – Apart from the uncertainty surrounding the wing situation at the Stormers, halfbacks Louis Schreuder and Demetri Catrakilis must face up to nagging doubts about whether they are the answers at No9 and 10 ahead of tomorrow’s warm-up game against the Bulls in Polokwane.
Catrakilis has actually never played for the Stormers, having made his Super Rugby debut for the Southern Kings last year.
And while he was a key figure in Port Elizabeth with his fairly accurate goal-kicking, the expectations are much higher in Cape Town, where the Stormers consider themselves to be title contenders.
WP fans will always have a soft spot in their hearts for Catrakilis due to his two magical Currie Cup-winning drop goals in 2012, but there has been more than enough frustration in the stands when it comes to Super Rugby, and there is very little leeway for mistakes or substandard performances.
Catrakilis, in fact, doesn’t make many errors, but except for those two dropped goals, he lacks that special touch which would set him apart from other flyhalves. He has a sound tactical kicking game and is a good goal-kicker without being exceptional, and it is those traits which saw him drafted straight into the WP side during last year’s Currie Cup despite Kurt Coleman’s efficient displays.
Coleman was quite unlucky to be dropped as he seemed to have found that steadiness that had been missing from his game, to go with the flash and the flair. He is set to get a chance next week against the Kings in PE.
The 24-year-old Catrakilis will come up against another new young flyhalf in Louis Fouché tomorrow, who has to fill Morné Steyn’s considerable boots.
Schreuder will have an even bigger challenge on his hands as he has to deal with a Bok No9 in Francois Hougaard, who makes a long-awaited return from a number of injuries last year.
It was Schreuder who benefited from Hougaard’s absence when he was a surprise selection for the Springbok end-of-year tour.
But the 23-year-old had a nightmare of a Currie Cup final, with the forgettable moment being his pass that was intercepted by opposite number Charl McLeod, who scored in the first five minutes.
Schreuder is on Bok coach Heyneke Meyer’s radar, and has a sharp break and can kick the ball a mile. But he will have to work really hard on his service from the base and decision-making if he is to keep the more agile Nic Groom on the bench.
Of course, much of what Schreuder and Catrakilis will hope to do will depend on the pack getting them quality ball, a tough ask against the Bulls.