Six players who can turn on the heat at Newlands
CAPE TOWN - You can call it a straight shootout. You can call it a final of some kind. Maybe even call it the dance of the desperates if you want. Point is, the Sharks and Stormers are both gunning for a Super Rugby playoff spot, and that in itself makes Saturday’s Newlands fixture a big one.
So, here are six players who can turn on the heat at Newlands.
Watching a game lacking fireworks? Chances are if Leyds is involved, a few sparks are bound to go off.
We always talk about how devastating he is at the back. But this season, when he's shifted to the wing while Damian Willemse started at 15, he also produced a few top spells out wide, where he created opportunities by the dozen (think Blues) and showed how he can handle his business in that channel.
Fullback still remains his ultimate stage, though, and just thinking back to how many times he's impressed in his magician's den (aka the No 15 jersey), you can't be blamed for expecting him to wave the wand a few times against the Durbanites on Saturday.
Fassi's linebreak, linebreak assist and metres made stats should provide a big-enough window into the opportunities he can create.
The 2019 Super Rugby season has been kind to the young talent until now. But let's not act like it hasn't all been his doing. He's been a proper threat from the back, and chances are it'll continue on Saturday.
Damian de Allende
There's been times this season where you could swear you're watching clips of the Springbok midfielder from 2015.
He's been quite a figure in 2019, from constantly looking for space to a linebreak or three to offloads that have kept the ball not only moving, but also gave it an express ticket to the tryline.
Simply put, he's been pleasing to watch. And continuing that form surrounded by a backline that boasts skill and pace like the Sharks team boast Du Preezs can create some fine opportunities for the hosts.
When it comes to this Bok centre, his stopping power on defence will often be one of the skills that sit higher up on his rugby resume. He's also added a few touches with the left boot to aid the Sharks' exits this season. We've in recent years also seen more of an offloading dimension added to Esterhuizen's big physique...but given the team that's visiting Cape Town this weekend, those offloads are nothing unique. Still, Esterhuizen's frame and those mitts could be a big factor.
It's quite common to hear coaches mention that injuries to star players provide opportunities for younger guys, but looking at Coetzee, he's the perfect example of how exactly a player should use that chance.
If there's one thing that the Stormers' injury curse has brought, it's the proper game time Coetzee has enjoyed.
His Man-of-the-Match performance against the Sunwolves was quite something, but what's even more impressive is how his massive ball carries and tackle busts, tackle success and breakdown intelligence and physicality has consistently impressed. It's like you just can't get used to it.
Daniel du Preez
At times this season, Du Preez has given fans more reason to use the words "power play" than a Varsity Cup final. We all know he's physically imposing, but his carries and, and this is impressive, his try scoring has also been noteworthy in 2019.
The Sharks certainly do have an impressive backline, but dominate them physically and that black and white vehicle slows down. And stopping Dan du Preez is crucial to taking away that power.@WynonaLouw