Stormers assistant coach Gary Gold feels that the Force will provide the Stormers with a tough but exciting rugby challenge when the two teams clash in Perth this coming Friday.
The Force have been flying high of late, and have surprised many pundits with some powerful and attractive rugby over the past weeks, most notably against the Crusaders and the Blues.
Coach Gold revealed exclusively to rugby365.com that he envisaged a mouth-watering Super 14 match on Friday against a team that shares the Stormers’ penchant for an attacking game.
“I think the Force are quite a similar team to us in many ways. They are a team that say ‘we want to play rugby’, they don’t just want to sit in the pocket and kick the corners, and drive and play a one-dimensional game,” said Gold.
“They’re an exciting team that’s very, very well coached by John [Mitchell], and at home they’re a factor, definitely.
“You know, they have just come back from South Africa where they won two games on the road. They then decided to go to New Zealand and beat the Blues there, so they’re formidable.
“I think in the bookies’ minds, they’re definitely a top four team,” said Gold, illustrating just how highly the Force are regarded within the Stormers camp.
These are heady days for the Stormers, and the action is coming thick and fast at the moment, with top quality teams providing the opposition every weekend, as Gold is well aware.
“We have got our work cut out for us, you know. These are top teams we’re playing at the moment, and [the Force] will be another tough assignment for us.
“But in saying that, they are the type of team we prefer playing against.
“They suit our brand of rugby, and I’m sure they’ll say the same about us, and I think it will be a helluva entertaining game,” said the coach.
Continuity within the team set-up is an elusive quality at the best of times, and head coach Rassie Erasmus has been cultivating just such an environment this year in the Super 14 by virtue of keeping personnel changes to an absolute minimum.
According to Gold, this methodology is the correct way to go, and is already starting to benefit the Stormers. He also stressed that continuity was very often imperative for success.
“I think [that it is paying off]. Even if it’s not now or the week later against the Cheetahs, I think in time, you’re going to see a lot of huge dividends.
“I think the best example around at the moment is Jake [White].
“Jake’s biggest asset by far was his continuity in selection for four years. There’s no question of a doubt that when John [Smit] and CJ [van der Linde], and Os [du Randt] and Bakkies [Botha] and Victor [Matfield] and Schalk [Burger] and Juan [Smith] and Danie [Rossouw], or Pierre [Spies] or Joe [van Niekerk] played together, that they must have had something like 400 Tests amongst them under Jake, and that’s exactly what you really want to get to.
“The Brumbies of old, the Crusaders in their heyday and even now, they have combinations of guys that understand each other so well.
“We have a lot of combinations of guys who only met each other this year,” Gold continued.
The coach did concede that it was not always easy to create a fluent pattern because of the physical nature of the game.
“There’s another factor as well – in rugby, we unfortunately have this evil called injuries.
“While you don’t have injuries, it just seems silly to want to mess with continuity, especially if you feel the combinations work.
“I feel that maybe the scoreboard hasn’t always been in our favour but there have been a lot of good things happening, and the guys have been playing a really good, constructive, intelligent brand of rugby.”
One secret to the Cape-based team’s recent success has been the solid form of pivot Peter Grant.
Grant has not only been in hot goal-kicking form, but his general play has been exemplary, enabling him to exert far greater influence on matches.
The arrival of skillful veteran flyhalf Tony Brown at the Stormers should enhance Grant’s growth as a player even further, according to Gold.
“Peter is just such a young and exciting, awesome prospect who is playing great rugby in our opinion,” enthused Gold.
“To have Tony and Peter in two such vital positions, not only vying for the position and putting each other under pressure, and with respect, Tony hopefully helping Peter, is a massive thing.
“Tony came onto the field [against the Blues] and made a difference, but similarly Peter had played very well up until then.
“You just saw that he [Grant] was a relatively calm head in a tense situation, and he made a very good contribution.”
By Phil CoetzerTweet