AFTER the slaying of Loftus, some of the Stormers punished themselves yesterday.
It was around 33 degrees in a blazingly hot Bellville, and once the Cape side went through their drills, the forwards weren’t done. They trudged off to the far side of the field, and forwards coach Matthew Proudfoot had them doing lineout after lineout, with all three hookers – Deon Fourie, Martin Bezuidenhout and Tiaan Liebenberg – feeding Andries Bekker and Co.
Liebenberg, though, is not yet ready to feature against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.
The backs didn’t bake as long in the sun, but flyhalf Elton Jantjies put in some extra work. Jantjies came out alone to practise his goal-kicking for the same amount of time that the forwards perfected their lineout, taking shot after shot. Coach Allister Coetzee came out and watched his pivot from behind the uprights, kicking the balls back to Jantjies.
The coach said that there was no holding back in the team’s video session in the morning either. “There are issues which have been addressed – we’ve been frank, open and honest. That’s the culture here. The players need to take ownership. We will have to make sure that we pitch with that necessary desire that is required at this level,” Coetzee said.
“I just think that we need to execute the things we can control. I would’ve been having sleepless nights if we couldn’t fix it. It’s not as if we haven’t done it against the Sharks, that very same pack. I think we’ve got to be clever on our feet, and don’t think the systems will help you – you’ve still got to play the game and think on your feet.
“That was the big discussion today, and I am really looking for a better response from the team – that’s senior players included.”
The presence of Peter Grant lightened up proceedings, and quite literally. Grant is still showing the effects of the Japanese winter, and will surely spend some time on the beach to get his skin colour back to normal.
But he is unlikely to be thrust straight into the No 10 jersey against the Sharks, with Jantjies set to be given a chance to redeem himself. He may have a new scrumhalf, though, with Nic Groom sitting out yesterday with an icepack on his knee.
Dewaldt Duvenage and Louis Schreuder took turns to run at No 9, with Duvenage’s experience making him the more viable candidate to start in Durban following a mixed display from Groom at Loftus.
“It’s brilliant having Peter back, and it’s his first week of training with us. We will see how it goes because we have made a few changes to what he was used to last year. He is confident and has good conditioning. There are some games that he will start, and others where he’ll play off the bench. Who knows, he might cover us in other positions like centre too,” the coach said.
“I think it’s fair that you give players the opportunity to rectify their mistakes. You also want to build a bit of continuity. In the warm-up, Elton was slotting every kick – and he had 10 or 12 kicks. He was kicking it. I suppose it’s pressure, pressure.
“I still maintain that Elton did some good things in the game, and one can’t just judge him on kicking for goal. Elton is a quality player, and he’s still a quality player – it’s just that his goal-kicking wasn’t good.”
Jaco Taute will miss the Sharks game after taking a knock to the testicles against the Bulls. Coetzee said that he is in hospital under observation, and he will be reassessed next week ahead of the Chiefs clash at Newlands. Joe Pietersen is set to come in at fullback after making a big impact at Loftus.
Juan de Jongh returned to training yesterday, but Coetzee has not yet made a decision about whether the Bok centre will replace Damian de Allende. “It’s quite positive about Juan returning, but we will see how it goes. I don’t get excited easily about the return of players, because I want to see him participate in full training. Then I will be convinced,” he said.
Tighthead prop Pat Cilliers passed his concussion test after taking a knock to the head at Loftus, but did not train. He will practise tomorrow, but if he isn’t ready, Frans Malherbe is likely to come in at No 3.