Despite Ruan Botha being on debut for the Stormers’ clash against the Chiefs, coach Allister Coetzee and captain Jean de Villiers feel that he can help sort out their lineout problems.
Botha made his Super Rugby debut in 2012 for the Lions before he starred for the Baby Boks in the triumphant junior World Cup campaign. However, a serious ankle injury saw him miss most of last year, and a few minor pre-season niggles delayed his progress further.
Now he has been handed the No 4 jersey against the Chiefs, against whom Botha made his first Super Rugby start in Pukekohe. He will face up to All Black star Brodie Retallick.
“I am positive about Ruan helping us in the lineouts. Just his size is a big positive in the lineout. We have a (lineout) ball that we’ve worked on this week with Ruan, and he just showed his class,” Coetzee said.
“This boy played against the Under-20 All Blacks in a final. Ruan will have the support of De Kock Steenkamp. It’s not just the thrower or jumper who are at fault, but the call, late support, a combination of those things. We’ve worked hard to eradicate that.”
Captain Jean de Villiers believes that the Stormers’ lineouts weren’t as problematic as it seemed, even though the lost lineouts prevented the Cape side from capitalising on great attacking chances inside the Crusaders’ 22.
“Ruan coming in helps us at the lineouts as he is maybe 10cm taller than Michael Rhodes. We stole four of their lineouts, and they did the same to us,” he said. “We will definitely back our lineout with Ruan coming in. It’s always tricky taking a scrum, as I just feel it’s a lottery. You take a scrum and think you are dominant, and then the ref sees it a different way.”
Meanwhile, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie sprung a few surprises yesterday, dropping centre Robbie Fruean and wing Asaeli Tikoirotuma to the bench.
15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Jamie Mackintosh. Bench: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Michael Fitzgerald, 20 Tevita Koloamatangi, 21 Brad Webber, 22 Robbie Fruean, 23 Asaeli Tikoirotuma. - Cape Times