Springbok coach Peter de Villiers says the expansive style of rugby being played by the Stormers could be replicated at national level.
De Villiers told the Cape Times’ Ashfak Mohamed on Tuesday that he was excited by the form of the Stormers and the Sharks in this year’s Super 14, and that he hoped that both teams could reach the semifinals.
“I think the Stormers found their best form at the right time, as the end of the league stages draws near. That makes me happy,” he said. “What has impressed me the most about the Stormers is their organisation and ability to play as a team. The manner in which they play off each other and how they run off a team-mate’s shoulder and offload in the tackle is great, really great!
“That is the type of rugby we really want to see our teams playing. And it is the type of rugby that I will encourage with the Springboks.”
The Stormers’ expansive and sometimes unpredictable playing pattern was best illustrated by the superb try scored by Schalk Brits against the Hurricanes last Saturday.
Luke Watson re-gathered Sireli Naqelevuki’s chip kick and produced a great offload to a charging Andries Bekker, who did magnificently to be up with the play in support of the ball carrier.
Bekker’s ability to take contact and still look to pass to a team-mate, in this case Watson, is sure to give him a tick in the positive box when De Villiers evaluates the Bok lock candidates.
The running ability of Brits to burst through the Hurricanes after Watson found him with an accurate pass was also sure to have heartened the Bok coach.
“It also pleases me that there are now guys who are putting up their hand for Springbok selection,” De Villiers said. “I don’t want to mention any names of players, but the Stormers team as a whole are playing very well as a unit. I just hope that they can build on that form.”
Some of the Stormers players who are sure to have impressed De Villiers are fullback Conrad Jantjes, wing Tonderai Chavhanga, centre and captain Jean de Villiers, halfbacks Peter Grant and Ricky Januarie, loose forwards Watson and Schalk Burger, as well as big men Bekker, Brits and tighthead prop Brian Mujati.
The Sharks lost their first match of the competition to the Brumbies last week, when a lacklustre second-half display filled with ill-discipline and poor decision making cost them victory.
But De Villiers, ever the optimist, was not unduly concerned by that setback to last year’s finalists. “The Sharks are a good team that just played one bad game,” he said.
“They have done really well to stay unbeaten for so long. I believe that they will play well again after what happened last week. And they must rather lose now than in a semifinal or final situation.
“At this stage, it looks like we can get two teams into the semi-finals of the Super 14. That will be fantastic if we can manage that.
“It will certainly help with the confidence when the guys get together at the Springboks after the Super 14.”
The Stormers are in fourth spot on the log with 27 points, but are only ahead of the fifth-placed Chiefs on points difference. They will still face the Highlanders (on Saturday), Brumbies and Waratahs at home and the Lions at Ellis Park.
The Sharks are in second position on 32 points and still have two difficult games on tour, against the Waratahs on Saturday and the Crusaders in Christchurch. They complete their league section against the Cheetahs and the Chiefs, both in Durban.
Meanwhile, Stormers captain Jean de Villiers missed training at Durbanville on Tuesday, but assistant coach Allister Coetzee said that De Villiers only had a sore throat and will play against the Highlanders on Saturday.
In other team news, Dylan des Fountain is set to replace the injured Tonderai Chavhanga after running at right wing for most of Tuesday’s practice. There could be a further change at scrumhalf, with Bolla Conradie, who ran in the probable team for most of the session, coming in for Ricky Januarie.
But Coetzee said: “We are making sure that everybody knows the calls in case we have a situation like the Tondie and JD one, where we lose two players for the rest of the Super 14.”Tweet