There’s nothing earth-shattering about Etzebeth’s comments – the defending champions are well ahead of the other teams, not only on the log but when it comes to their form as well (perhaps only the Hurricanes can come close), so it’s understandable that a win against the Crusaders would be seen as a gateway to more success.
The Stormers are currently in 10th place on the log after 11 games – only the Sharks have played 12 in the South African conference – so this game, like their four other remaining ones, is crucial if they want to keep their play-off hopes alive.
“If we can win this game... firstly they are the defending champions, so that is one box ticked. They are also far ahead in the competition, so if you can beat the No 1 team, you can probably beat all the other teams. It will definitely be a very positive thing for us if we can pull this off,” Etzebeth said in Bellville yesterday.
How exactly they aim to secure a win this weekend the Springbok lock didn’t elaborate on, but he did share what he feels would not do the trick – and that’s using the approach the Springboks used to record a historic win in Wellington against the All Blacks last year.
The Boks were all defence in that 36-34 Rugby Championship triumph, as the South Africans produced a monster defensive effort and made 235 tackles to the hosts’ 61.
They also had only 24 percent of the possession, while their attacking statistics were grim compared to New Zealand’s.
The home side made 215 carries to the Boks’ 59, gained 624 metres to 245, made 257 passes to 64 and 14 offloads to three, and beat 39 defenders to SA’s 12.
But “not playing” isn’t the way to go this weekend, according to Etzebeth.
“Unfortunately not,” Etzebeth said when asked if they would aim to emulate the Boks’ approach.
“It’s two different sides, two different competitions, and a different time of the year.
“We’re going to have to prepare from the start and look at our past performances, where we went wrong and what we did right, and hopefully everyone will be at their best.”@WynonaLouw
The Cape Times