THE South African teams may have played each other several times since the end of the Covid-19 hard lockdown, but the Stormers feel that this weekend’s United Rugby Championship clash against the Lions is a “new challenge”.
The Lions have had a few changes made to their coaching staff, with former Springbok centre Jaque Fourie arguably the biggest name who has come in at Ellis Park.
Fourie was renowned for his defence, and with the Stormers in confident mood after a strong finish to their URC European tour, they are hoping to continue to grow their attacking game at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday (5pm kick-off).
John Dobson’s team scored some thrilling tries on their four-match trip, and after beating the Dragons 24-10 following a 20-20 draw with Edinburgh, they will try to get the better of the Lions as well.
The Johannesburg side also showed some significant improvements on their tour to Europe, even though they recorded only one win as well – 38-26 over Zebre.
“They’ve got Jaque Fourie doing the defence, so it’s a little different from my point of view in terms of preparing for them. They have made a few adjustments that we’ve picked up since they last played them. It’s different opposition to the overseas teams, but we are more focusing on ourselves and where we are,” Stormers attack coach Dawie Snyman said yesterday.
“We will take into account what they will present on the day, but 90% of our prep is about how we can prepare as a team and be better.
“The moment two South African teams are playing, you always … it has a real element of competitiveness and guys going for each other, as they know each other really well.
“Jaque was a great player, and one of his strengths was his defensive ability. The players are really looking forward to it as it is a little bit of a new challenge – we will see if we can unlock it and try to put them under pressure.”
The Stormers had opportunities to win all four games on tour, having been in the lead against Benetton and Munster as well, but it was not to be.
“What we’ve learnt on tour, especially against the European sides, is about being disciplined and if you give them possession in your 22, they will punish you – which is exactly what Munster did against us,” Snyman said.
“We had one or two moments against Benetton where we let ourselves down, and also against
Edinburgh, there were moments we could’ve done better to get the result. Learnings in certain parts of the field, we need to be better to put pressure on other teams.”
Snyman confirmed that locks Salmaan Moerat and Marvin Orie are available for selection after touring with the Springboks recently, but there is still doubt about Damian Willemse.
“At the moment, Salmaan and Marvin came back from tour duty. Damian Willemse came back last week and was available for selection for the Zebre game. He needs to get off at some stage of the season, so we are just still deciding on him. But the other two are ready to play,” Snyman said.
“Damian is a very talented player, and he can almost slot in anywhere. But to be fair to him, he needs to settle into a position where he is comfortable and where he is going to challenge for higher honours,” Snymand added.
“We will have a look at it when Damian is fully back with us, a fulltime squad member, and then we will probably have to make some tough decisions.
“One thing we’ve learnt about this competition is that it is a long one, and you cannot have the same 15 playing in every game. So, when Damian is back, we will look at stuff like that.”