Stormers captain Jean de Villiers probably created a few doubts in the minds of the inexperienced Waratahs centres on Wednesday when he made some telling observations about Saturday’s Super 14 rugby match.
Stephen Nell writes in Die Burger that the Australians are likely to field 18-year-old Rob Horne and Tom Carter, 24, in midfield for the Newlands clash.
“I’m not sure whether Horn will play on Saturday but if he does, I’ll say a few things to him and see how he reacts,” De Villiers said.
“One does not take age into account but sometimes this competition offers a psychological challenge. When you’re young, it can be hard to remain sharp week after week.
“A young player can try to avoid a challenge or he can grab the opportunity. But I don’t underestimate any opponent. Horn is a good player and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Horne was still at school last year and Carter made his Super 14 debut only this season.
De Villiers and Gcobani Bobo, both experienced Springboks, will certainly go all out to test their opponents in a match the Stormers just have to win.
“Sometimes these young guys bring so much energy to the squad that the whole team’s work ethics are boosted,” De Villiers said.
Has to be psychologically tuned
“It can go both ways. We’ll see how many negative points we can find and capitalise on them.
“One has to be psychologically tuned. You don’t know how strong they are, psychologically,” De Villiers said.
The Waratahs, who lost to the Bulls last week, are still second on the points table but the Stormers can leap-frog them by winning on Saturday.
De Villiers feels the Waratahs are a good all-round team, strong in the set pieces and with big ball carriers.
“It’s hard to find a weak link in their team. We have a few ideas. We hope we can focus on what we have been doing well and carry it over into this game,” De Villiers said.
The Stormers have selected the same team that beat the Brumbies 20-10 last week.
Coach Rassie Erasmus is hoping his side will make use of their opportunities.
“In the first half against the Brumbies, we had two chances of scoring tries and we took them both. In the second half we had four, and we did not use one,” he said on Wednesday.
Tighhead prop Brian Mujati had a slight dose of the flu on Wednesday and substitute flyhalf Tony Brown nursed slight groin problems but both should be ready to play on Saturday.
“It’s nice to be able to field the same team. I hope the guys play well together,” Erasmus said.
However, the coach did not even mention bonus points. He just wants a win. “I’ll take a penalty try or a drop-goal to win,” he said.
The Stormers team: Conrad Jantjes, Wylie Human, Gcobani Bobo, Jean de Villiers (capt) Sireli Naqelevuki, Peter Grant, Ricky Januarie, Robbie Diack, Francois Louw, Luke Watson, Andries Bekker, Adriaan Fondse, Brock Harris, Schalk Brits, Brian Mujati.
Substitutes: Deon Fourie, Schalk Ferreira, Ross Skeate, Pieter Myburgh, Bolla Conradie, Tony Brown and Dylan Des Fountain.