Cape Town - Considering the Stormers’ hectic travel schedule – like the other South African teams in the Champions Cup – the Capetonians will be able to ease a lot of their anxiety if they are able to beat London Irish this afternoon.
But for coach John Dobson it’s about the actual performance, where he wants to see a major improvement compared to last week’s 24-17 loss to Glasgow in the United Rugby Championship.
The Stormers will run out at the Brentford Community Stadium in West London today (3pm SA time kick-off), before travelling back home and arriving in Cape Town on Tuesday for next Saturday night’s clash against Clermont, which is followed by a long trek to Belfast for a Friday night URC encounter against Ulster at Ravenhill.
As if that’s not tough enough, they fly back to South Africa to take on the Sharks in Durban the following Friday, before enjoying a welcome bye.
It’s a similar scenario for the Bulls and Sharks too, but a win over the Exiles today will give Steven Kitshoff’s team some breathing space and ensure that the Clermont game doesn’t become a must-win situation.
The Stormers management were disappointed with the manner of the Glasgow defeat last week, where a number of unforced errors crept in.
There was also the marathon trip from Cape Town to Scotland, which saw them arrive more than 40 hours later at their destination – and they were seated in economy class.
“If we had won in Glasgow – which we had put a lot of effort into – but it was very, very difficult circumstances, and I don’t want to mention travel and all that, as people will just be thinking we are making excuses,” Dobson said this week.
“The reality of the Champions Cup, as it stands now, is that we have to win one of these two to stand a chance of getting through. If we win both, we will probably play in Cape Town, so it’s not all about massive pressure this week. We want to go out and correct and present better pictures than last week.”
And despite a 34-14 win over Irish in Cape Town a month ago, the Stormers are expecting their defence to be tested once more after they slipped a number of tackles against Glasgow.
The Irish boast the talents of speedsters such as Ben Loader and Ollie Hassell-collins out wide, but the Stormers coach wants his team to be wary of the inside ball, and also win more territory from the boots of Paul de Wet, Manie Libbok and Damian Willemse.
15 Damian Willemse 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg 13 Ruhan Nel 12 Dan du Plessis 11 Angelo Davids 10 Manie Libbok 9 Paul de Wet 8 Hacjivah Dayimani 7 Junior Pokomela 6 Deon Fourie 5 Marvin Orie 4 Connor Evans 3 Neethling Fouche 2 Joseph Dweba 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain).
Bench: 16 Andre-hugo Venter 17 Ali Vermaak 18 Brok Harris 19 Simon Miller 20 Ben-jason Dixon 21 Willie Engelbrecht 22 Stefan Ungerer 23 Sacha Feinbergmngomezulu.