Cape Town – Springbok Jaco Taute will play for the Stormers next year, and he is set to feature mainly at fullback for the Cape side in Super Rugby.
Taute’s agent, Eduard Kelder, confirmed to the Cape Times from London on Wednesday night that the 21-year-old utility back, who is able to play at fullback, centre and even flyhalf at a push, is busy finalising his loan deal with the Stormers at the moment, with an official announcement set to be made either later this week or next.
“Jaco has decided that WP is the place that he really wants to go to. We are just busy negotiating to come to the desirable terms. We are very close to coming to terms,” Kelder said.
New Springbok Taute, who made his Test debut against Australia at Loftus Versfeld two weeks ago at outside centre, was being courted by the Bulls and Sharks to play for them in next year’s Super Rugby competition.
He is still contracted to the Lions until the end of 2013, but due to the Johannesburg team being relegated from the tournament next year in favour of the Southern Kings, Taute will go on loan to the Stormers and return to the Lions thereafter.
The Cape Times has established that he will be playing mainly at fullback for the Stormers, as the No 15 jersey is seen as a problem area within the Cape side at the moment. Coach Allister Coetzee has said on record that Gio Aplon is his “second-choice fullback” due to a perceived weakness on defence, with Joe Pietersen the preferred choice at the back.
But Pietersen was found wanting under the high ball during the Super Rugby semi-final against the Sharks at Newlands. One particular moment that he would’ve wanted to forget was his failure to deal with a first-half up-and-under from fullback Riaan Viljoen. Wing Louis Ludik chased it and beat Pietersen in the air, and eventually scored a crucial try on the way to a 26-19 victory.
Pietersen hasn’t been in the best of form for Western Province during the Currie Cup either, and his lack of height and size counts against him. According to the SA Rugby website, Taute is 1.87m tall and weighs 95kg, compared to Pietersen at 1.80m and 81kg. In 2012, Bryan Habana was the equal-tallest, but heaviest member of the Stormers back-three at 1.80m and 94kg. Aplon is 1.75m and 80kg.
Not only is Taute bigger and stronger, he also possesses a massive kicking boot, which would be a vital factor in the Stormers’ overall gameplan, with their strong emphasis on a kicking game.
The former Monument schoolboy also has considerable pace to join the line from the back and can utilise his speed on the counter-attack, while he showed on Test debut against the Wallabies that he is a deadly defender.
He struggled a bit on defence against the All Blacks last week, but he was playing in the less-familiar outside centre position against the likes of world-class midfielders such as Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith.
While the Stormers have a strong first-choice midfield of Jean de Villiers and Juan de Jongh, they have two inexperienced youngsters in Marcel Brache and JP du Plessis as back-ups.
Both have made great progress during the Currie Cup for Western Province this season, but Taute will certainly add excellent depth as an extra cover in the midfield.
Taute will become the second Lions player on loan to the Stormers next year, as the Cape side are set to confirm officially the arrival of Bok flyhalf Elton Jantjies on loan later this week or early next week. Jantjies’s agent, James Adams, told the Cape Times that he had met with Elton and his father Thomas on Tuesday evening to finalise where he would play in 2013.
The Stormers raided the Lions’ den further last week by signing Bok prop Pat Cilliers and lock-flank Michael Rhodes on two-year contracts. – Cape Times