Gert Smal may have said he wants the Stormers and Western Province to play a typical WP and Stormers brand of rugby, but head coach Allister Coetzee believes there is still a need for “a lot of discussion and debate” about the game plan going forward.
Smal was present at his first Stormers practice at Newlands yesterday in his new role as WP director of rugby, and was seen having long chats with injured team leaders Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger. The 52-year-old former Springbok flank said on Monday at the announcement of his appointment that he wanted the Cape sides to play “a winning 15-man game that’s unpredictable”, which would be in stark contrast to the over-cautious territory and defence-based game plan under Coetzee over the last few years.
The Stormers have struggled to score tries in recent seasons, and have dotted down just nine times in six matches this year to lie second-bottom on the log. When asked yesterday whether he also wanted to see the WP and Stormers teams play more of an attacking game as proposed by Smal, Coetzee said: “Look, it’s too early to say. There needs to be a lot of discussion and debate about it. It’s a complete culture change, and then you have to look at contracting the right kind of players who can play that game.”
Coetzee felt Smal’s appointment would ease his workload with regard to contracting of players and the overall rugby set-up of the union. “It is tough to do both, it’s been tough to think you can manage all those things. Gert’s been here and it’s a fantastic appointment. I’m mates with Gert for a long time, and he’s a guy with integrity and a guy I can work with,” he said. “He’s been here, he’s been fired here. So, he’s got knowledge of the system and the set-up. Hopefully that will make a massive difference.”
But first the Stormers have to deal with the Waratahs at Newlands on Saturday (7.10pm), and Coetzee named a team minus captain Jean de Villiers, which has resulted in a backline reshuffle of sorts. Damian de Allende moves to inside centre, with Kobus van Wyk coming back at right wing.
A rest for De Villiers has been mooted in recent weeks, but Coetzee said yesterday he has a “meniscus cyst, which has an impact on his calf”. “It will settle over seven days, and with the bye (next week), it gives him another extra week,” the coach said.
Springbok No8 Duane Vermeulen will take over the captaincy. Ruan Botha is also over his ankle injury and comes in for the injured Jurie van Vuuren at No 4 lock. Back-up flyhalf Kurt Coleman has been released to the WP Vodacom Cup side to get some game time after he wasn’t used on tour by the Stormers, so Michael van der Spuy comes on to the bench.
Stormers: Jaco Taute, Kobus van Wyk, Juan de Jongh, Damian de Allende, Sailosi Tagicakibau, Peter Grant, Louis Schreuder, Duane Vermeulen (capt), Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Michael Rhodes, Ruan Botha, Frans Malherbe, Deon Fourie, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Stephan Coetzee, Oli Kebble, Brok Harris, Tazz Fuzani, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Nic Groom, Demetri Catrakilis, Michael van der Spuy. - The Star