CAPE TOWN - “The Chiefs will be throwing everything into beating us.” Those were Stormers assistant coach Paul Feeney’s words on the impending battle against the wounded Kiwis.
The Stormers will host Colin Coopers outfit at Newlands on Saturday (kick-off 3.05 pm), one week after they went down to the Jaguares in Wellington.
And while the Chiefs will look to bounce back after that disappointment, the Stormers will be hunting another home win to take their season tally at Newlands to six as they aim to crack into the top eight Super Rugby spots.
And as motivated as the Stormers might be after their impressive performance against the Bulls last week, Feeney needed no reminding that you can never expect an easy run against the Chiefs.
“The Chiefs will be all in, boots and all, and in New Zealand it’s well-documented that their All Blacks players will miss the Sharks game, they’re returning to New Zealand (for a training camp), so this is their big game of their tour.”
“They will be going to Durban to play their next game under strength so they will be throwing everything into beating us,” he said.
“They weren’t at full strength when they lost to the Jaguares last week either. I read a report that Coops (Chiefs coach Colin Cooper) wanted to rest Brodie Retallick for the Jaguares game because of the way he plays his rugby ... he throws the kitchen sink in every game he plays and he needs to be firing on all cylinders at Newlands.”
“So I think that sums up the feeling of the Chiefs going into this game. Retallick has to be as fresh as possible for our game. That is an indication of how much emphasis they are putting on the Newlands match.”
“They’re a physical team, they like to dominate up front. The (Brodie) Retallicks and the (Sam) Canes lead by example.”
While Retallick is obviously one to watch up front, Damian McKenzie is one a number of dangermen among the backs. And while there might be a couple, he is certainly one of their most potent.
The “little Beauden Barrett” is a player Feeney believes is growing in confidence and “comfort” every time he runs out in the No 10 jersey.
“He’s very, very dangerous. He was brought up as a 10 in New Zealand rugby, he came out of school as the best 10 in New Zealand at school. Then he went to New Zealand Under-20s as a 10 and 15,” Feeney said of McKenzie.
“He played 10 his whole life, this is his position, not 15. People question how he’s going to go ... he has such a great skillset, he’s got the pace, he’s a little Beauden Barrett isn’t he?”
“He just doesn’t have the experience, but he’s electric and he’s got a big boot. He’s courageous on defence and great under the high ball. He’s got a lot going for him and he’s a big threat. Week by week he’s getting more familiar with the position.”
“And you can see he’s pushing the team around the park and he’s barking at the forwards more. He’s pretty comfortable there now.”
And while the Chiefs certainly do have an exciting pivot, the Stormers’ Damian Willemse is right up there when it comes to X-factor.
The Stormers will lose the talented flyhalf as he will compete in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship with the Junior Boks, but fortunately Jean-Luc du Plessis has timed his return to action perfectly, so he will be able to take over.