Cape Town – The Stormers are poised to resurrect their Super Rugby fortunes by turning the tables on the Lions in their clash at Newlands.
Their chances of winning may have shot up a notch or two after the Lions benched players like the in-form scrumhalf Francois de Klerk and live-wire flank Willie Britz.
Both players have been inspirational for the Johannesburg franchise earlier this season, when the Stormers were soundly beaten 34-10.
Recently, the Stormers roped in the services of Henning Gericke, the former Springbok team psychologist, a few days after appointing Gert Smal to oversee Western Province rugby.
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers felt the arrival of Smal and Gericke would make a difference.
“I have no doubt about a mental coach being able to add a lot of value because the difference at a professional level is not the physical or the ability, it is the mental stability, mental approach and mental strength that wins you games,” said De Villiers.
“It is fantastic to have Gert involved although a lot has been thrown his way since he started.”
De Villiers said self-belief would fuel the team effort on Saturday.
“In saying that, we believe that we can improve a helluva lot as a team. It is our focus and we want to get that improvement going,” said De Villiers.
“We have seven derby fixtures to play and we know that if we get it right we can still be in the running for a play-off place.”
Stormers lock Michael Rhodes will be up against his former team-mates but he too feels that the team can improve on its most recent performance.
Apart from De Klerk and Britz being missing from the run-on XV, the Lions will also be without their kingpin lock Franco van der Merwe, who disrupted the Stormers line-outs in their earlier clash. However, Rhodes feels that the Lions are still capable of holding their own.
The Lions will run out at Newlands on the back of two defeats and it will also be their final match on South African soil before their Australasian tour.
Captain Warren Whiteley and coach Johan Ackermann know how important it is for the team to set off on tour with a victory under its belt.
“We do not take losing two (games) in a row very lightly, especially when those defeats have been at home, so Saturday's match is very important,” said Whiteley.
“We haven't thought about touring yet, but we know how important it will be to win before going abroad.”
A week ahead of their first tour match, the Lions have a bye and Ackermann felt his players would not spare themselves.– Sapa