Stormers ticked a lot of boxes in the Preparation Series
CAPE TOWN - After four weeks of action against domestic sides in the Preparation Series, South Africa's “Super” teams will now put that preparation forth for the Rainbow Cup, which kicks off next month.
For the Stormers, some clear workons have emerged after those four weeks, but there have also been positives.
Here are three things the Cape side can feel chuffed with after the series:
Growth on attack
Getting fluidity on attack is a goal that's been talked about by the Stormers coaches for so long that it probably started falling on deaf ears. While doing better with ball-in-hand is no new goal, sometimes the team just wouldn't get it right on match days, and at times, even when they would look good in that regard in one outing, they'd sometimes take two steps back in the very next and nullify whatever good they did on attack in the previous game. So, there wasn't always consistency, that improvement was sometimes temporary and patchy. But during the series, it was one area where there was a definite upward curve, and it culminated in the most complete display the team had produced since rugby returned when they thumped the Lions on Saturday.
Fresh talent gaining experience
The Stormers weren't at all unique in this regard as almost all teams, especially the ones that will be facing off against European competition, gave their youngsters a go, but it's still worth mentioning. With all teams having been super keen to assert their dominance in the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup competitions after a dry spell, there wasn't as much room for manoeuvring with team selections as there was during the Preparation Series, where log points weren't a factor and no trophies were up for grabs. The young props delivering, in the absence of their World Cup-winners, was one of the most promising and reassuring displays for the future of Western Province rugby. Overall, this one was a definite box ticked.
Getting closer to answering a few big questions
This point is basically an extension of the previous one, but a point I reckon important enough to stand on its own.
Following the conclusion of the Currie Cup, the Cape group were left with quite a few questions, perhaps more than they had to deal with than before Super Rugby Unlocked kicked off.
The No 10 position was one of them. Damian Willemse struggled in the driving seat after rugby's resumption, which saw him shift to fullback to accommodate Tim Swiel at 10.
The latter offered some decent contributions but there was still much room for improvement and the shortcomings were still evident. In came Kade Wolhuter, a talented 19-year-old who showed promise against the Bulls last week, while Christopher Schreuder has also got an opportunity during the series.
The most eye-catching display from a flyhalf over the last four weeks have no doubt, however, been that of Abner van Reenen against the Lions.
Is he the Stormers' answer to the problematic position? Early days still.