The Stormers have a new coach, a new captain and a squad that has talent on paper but always one that comes with question marks.
The Stormers squad can thankfully look forward after the Van der Merwe years, where some of the worst years of rugby seen at Newlands bar any Saturday Gus Theron started, have been paraded as entertainment
Lets start with the draw
At first glance the Stormers have a good draw, but their first two home matches are against the Bulls – Champs, and the third place and arguably the best team to ever grace super rugby – the Crusaders. Slip in a tough fixture against the Sharks in Durban and the gloss comes off. Three losses and the four week tour starts looking like a ticker tape through hell.
The Reds, Chiefs, Blues and the Force make the tour a back and forth ANZAC nightmare. Realistically the first game will be targeted for a win but given the nature of SA sides touring abilities and the Stormers woeful form for the past few seasons i am hesitant to be certain about anything.
The Chiefs are always better than they look. The Blues are the one team the Stormers do seem to win against but again – an away team with a poor start isn’t going to trouble anyone except the barman at whatever hotel they are hiding in. The Force if they can survive their drinking and fighting scandals and show the form they showed last seasons are not the five points everyone always assumed they would be in their first couple of years of Super rugby.
The rest of the draw is at home against the Cheetahs, Canes, Highlanders, Brumbies and Waratahs with a finish against the Lions away in Jozi.
If anything can be said about this season, its that a good start will make it slightly more pleasant one, but a bad start and it could all be over by week six.
Rassie made a couple of interesting off season purchases in Brian Mujati and Adriaan Fonse. The latter’s name being whispered in Tshwane before he got a hair stylist and moved to Cape Town. Mujati, although injury prone has created some good hype via his performances in his debut season for the Lions and will be interesting to see how he fares down in the Cape. I am still searching for a reason as to why Ricky Januarie and Wylie Human are in Cape Town, but i will give Rassie the benefit of the doubt and one could argue that he added some experience to both positions.
Hopefully the ever injured Tonderaai Chanvanga and Andries Bekker can get through more than four weeks of rugby before returning to the physio table as one will add grunt and the other some sorely lacking pace.
The loose forwards are a mix of young and seriously talented individuals lead by the indomitable Schalk Burger. It will be interesting to see who Rassie actually plays and how they fare against some of the beasts you find lurking in the back row when visiting New Zealand.
The midfield and the team will be lead by Jean and hopefully he can find that attacking flair that made everyone think we had a found a new messiah at twelve, one who could pass and take a gap as opposed to run at the nearest opposition player and try and tackle him while retaining possession.
Naas has thankfully acknowledged that Cape Town was not his best decision and he took early retirement in France, hopefully it will benefit more than his bank balance. Peter Grant has the ten jersey for the first three weeks and the kid is talented but it will amount to nothing if the pack don’t give him the front foot ball he plays so well off. Ishma-Eel Dollie is by nature an attacking flyhalf who has fared well at all age levels bar senior, a lack of size the often touted excuse for his lack of game time but hopefully 2008 he can show what he can do and get regular game time. We can also expect Tony Brown at some point and if anything he will assure the Stormers of at least three points.
So the the verdict from a perennially disappointed Stormers fan…..
I don’t expect the Stormers to win the Super 14 but i would like to see a few things, that Newlands becomes a feared destination again, not the five point visit with some great tourist attractions – winning at home needs to be non-negotiable. Score four tries, the wins will surely follow, but more than anything i would like to see the players play with a bit of heart and pride in their team.
Something sorely lacking for the past few yearsTweet