Eben Etzebeth looks set to return to face the Bulls this weekend in a crucial derby. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – Stormers assistant coach Russel Winter admits the season opening defeat to the Bulls still rankles.

The Cape side suffered a 40-3 humiliation at Loftus Versveld to their arch-rivals, but now have an opportunity to avenge the loss at Newlands on Saturday.

“We haven’t forgotten that first game. They are a class outfit and it wasn’t a good day for us. We have moved on. We must make sure that we improve. We have to pitch up this Saturday and play the best we can,” Winter said.

Since then the season has been topsy-turvy, with the Stormers producing a memorable performance in Melbourne a fortnight ago before tripping up against the Brumbies.

This leaves the home side in a precarious position on the log, but Winter claims they have learnt their lessons.

“We learnt a lot. I think from a preparation point of view, arriving late, getting off the bus, from how we handled that. We cannot make an excuse. We had a fully-fit side,” he said.

“There are positives, there are certain aspects that we’re pleased with. Obviously finishing wasn’t one of them. If we create opportunities to score we need to be patient enough to get over the line. Better ball security to get over the line. We now want to right these wrongs. We will be far better.”

Winter has been working with a fairly young set of forwards after a few Springboks were either injured or sent home to rest from the Australasian tour. He was impressed with the work put in by youngsters like Cobus Wiese, Salmaan Moerat, Ernst van Rhyn and Jaco Coetzee in the absence of the seniors.

However, with a big derby against the Bulls this week, he cannot hide his excitement that Eben Etzebeth and JD Schickerling are set to run out at Newlands on Saturday.

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“It is great having senior players like Eben back,” Winter said. “It is sad that we are picking up so many injuries in that No 4 and No 5 area. We are waiting on Cobus. He has been off to see a specialist. He might be available to play. They haven’t played a lot but the games they have played they have been outstanding.

“But JD and Eben are back now and hopefully they are going to come through this weekend. When you have a long break like that, hopefully they are still sharp and I am sure they will be.

They are keen to play and it is great having them in the system because they are senior players and they bring so much to the squad dynamic.”


Cape Argus

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