He was referring to youngster Kobus van Wyk when he spoke about having to “man-up” when facing All Black wing Julian Savea tonight at Newlands, but Stormers coach Allister Coetzee may as well have been speaking about the team.
The way in which the Stormers went down to the Lions last week may have set alarm bells ringing in Cape Town, but it doesn’t mean all is lost for Jean de Villiers’ men.
What needs to change though, and probably the most concerning aspect of last week’s display, was the lack of fighting spirit, as well as the execution of the most basic aspects of attacking play.
To hear De Villiers say the players didn’t show desire, commitment and pride for the jersey was a huge statement. There is no way a side with the calibre of players like De Villiers, Gio Aplon, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger and Siya Kolisi, are an average outfit.
But all five – to a lesser extent De Villiers – were a long way from their best at Ellis Park, and that cannot happen against the Hurricanes tonight. It is up to them to decide whether the Stormers are going to be genuine Super Rugby contenders this season.
They are the ones who have to stop knocking the ball on, and have the vision to spot space out wide. In the case of the loose trio (although Burger’s injury-enforced absence sees Deon Fourie at No6), they must be first to those rucks and fight for the ball on the ground.
The likes of Louis Schreuder and Demetri Catrakilis have to be more decisive as halfbacks, and cannot fumble around and “hide” on the field.
Catrakilis cannot continue to trade on his 2012 Currie Cup heroics with WP. While he had a decent Super Rugby bow with the Kings last year, he was under little pressure as expectations were not great on the PE team.
He left Cape Town at the end of 2012 as he wasn’t likely to feature for the Stormers, but he has his chance now ahead of Peter Grant’s return. Catrakilis needs to make it a difficult selection for Coetzee at No10, and what better stage to prove himself than at Newlands against All Black Beauden Barrett.
De Villiers will also need to think carefully about whether to kick penalties to touch or take the three points. He said he was happy with his choices at Ellis Park, but there was a case two minutes after half-time when he should’ve gone to the posts, with the Stormers 22-10 down. It could’ve been 22-13, and another penalty would’ve put them back into the game.
The Stormers backline has a more organised look about it due to Jaco Taute’s return, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll operate at 100percent.
But Damian de Allende is back at inside centre, while Aplon provides the pace – although he wouldn’t want a repeat of his horror show at Ellis Park.
And, yes, Van Wyk will face the biggest test of his life against Savea.
“It’s about excitement and I’m sure he’ll be up for it. It’s his second game and he will be even better equipped,” Coetzee said.
But will the big names “man-up” tonight?
Stormers: Jaco Taute, Kobus van Wyk, Jean de Villiers (capt), Damian de Allende, Gio Aplon, Demetri Catrakilis, Louis Schreuder, Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi, Deon Fourie, Manuel Carizza, Rynhardt Elstadt, Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Tiaan Liebenberg, Oliver Kebble, Pat Cilliers, Michael Rhodes, Nizaam Carr, Nic Groom, Kurt Coleman, Ryno Eksteen
Hurricanes: Marty Banks, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith (capt), Hadleigh Parkes, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Blade Thomson, Jack Lam, Faifili Levave, Mark Reddish, Jeremy Thrush, John Schwalger, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Replacements:: Motu Matu’u, Chris Eves, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, James Broadhurst, Ardie Savea, Chris Smylie, Alapati Leiua, James Marshall. - The Star