Kade Wolhuter starts at flyhalf for the Stormers against the Cheetahs. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
Kade Wolhuter starts at flyhalf for the Stormers against the Cheetahs. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

3 questions Stormers need to answer before the new campaign

By Wynona Louw Time of article published Feb 26, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - For the Stormers, the Preparation Series is going to be important, not just for getting into their best shape for the Rainbow Cup, but also to sort out a few issues that may have been problematic and to clear up any uncertainty in areas where there were question marks.

So, as they prepare for their first game at Cape Town Stadium, here are three questions that are going to need answering, in this game and beyond ...

ALSO READ: Cape Town Stadium switch marks new beginning for Western Province Rugby

More of that scrum ‘reliance’?

Are we going to see any change in the Stormers' play Judging by what head coach John Dobson said during a media briefing this week, we might ...

“Our next step is to play rugby that suits this team's DNA, but we cannot go back from this territory game. We would like to play more attacking rugby and empower the players. Maybe in the last competition we were very prescriptive about zones on the field.

“Now it is going to be more about Tristan Lleyds and Kade Wolhuter, Timmy (Swiel), when he plays, and Damian (Willemse), when he is back, being allowed to make those decisions. We must now add to it, with a more fluid and exciting talent.”

During the domestic season, Western Province and the Stormers were sometimes criticised for their ‘over-reliance' on their set-piece strengths, and while it doesn't have to be either-or flair or scrummaging dominance, there is no doubt that a team with these kind of X-factor players can certainly be put to much greater use in open play.

Who’s going to lead the Stormers’ charges?

Earlier this week, Dobson confirmed that lock Chris van Zyl would lead the team during the preparation fixtures, and that a decision on a long-term captain is yet to be made.

With Springbok captain Siya Kolisi having joined the Sharks, Dobson said that, along with Van Zyl, he was also considering Springbok loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff and former SA Schools skipper Salmaan Moerat as candidates for the long-term captaincy.

“We've got great ideas. Chris is here now and we've got great experience with him. Kitshoff did a great job when Siya wasn't available for a fair portion of last season.

“We've also got a guy like Salmaan Moerat who we are looking at as a long-term leader at this union. So, it will be one of those guys and we may go so far as making an announcement once we're sort of clearer when the next tournament is starting. Those are pretty much our candidates.”

Are we going to see any selection changes going forward?

During Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup, the biggest change in selection was Willemse shifting to fullback to accommodate Swiel at flyhalf.

Swiel continued there for the duration of the domestic season, and while Wolhuter has been named at 10 for this weekend, who's going to be the main pivot when the Rainbow Cup kicks off?

Are they going to bring somebody new in? After all, the point of the Preparation Series is exactly that, preparation, so if the Stormers see Willemse's immediate future at flyhalf, then surely he should feature there during these games.

@WynonaLouw

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