The Stormers may try to counter the “awesome” Lions at the breakdowns by starting with specialist openside flank Pieter Myburgh in Saturday’s final Super 14 league match at Ellis Park
Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus described the Lions’ breakdown skills as “awesome” at the weekend. And after his team were outplayed in that area by the Waratahs last week, Erasmus may look to shore up his team’s shortcomings by bringing in Myburgh to attack the breakdowns.
Although the Stormers camp did not speak to the media yesterday, it seems as if Myburgh may start in place of Robbie Diack, which would result in Luke Watson moving back to No 8. Myburgh did start against the Crusaders in the Stormers’ third match and has featured as a substitute in a few other games.
Myburgh was part of the “probables” team at training in Durbanville on Monday, while Wylie Human and Brok Harris also took a full part after being cleared from their respective rib and shoulder injuries.
Veteran prop Ollie le Roux was at training and completed the full session. He seemed to be a popular figure among his new team-mates and looked in good shape. Le Roux is likely to start at loosehead prop in place of Brian Mujati, who is set to move to tighthead for Harris.
Diack has not been able to make a telling contribution, particularly on attack, in the Stormers’ last two matches against the Brumbies and Waratahs after coming in for the injured Schalk Burger.
Watson has not featured as strongly in the last two games as he did earlier in the season, but he has not been helped by the fact that his role in the loose trio has not been clearly defined. Instead of playing to the ball, Watson seems to have been used in a free role, and this has not helped the team at the breakdowns. The Stormers have also fanned out on defence too much instead of committing more players to the tackle area.
Myburgh is more likely to focus on the breakdowns. Lions captain and openside flank Cobus “Baywatch” Grobbelaar has had a superb season and is a menace in that area, so the Stormers will have to counter him in that area.
The Stormers practised with real purpose on Monday, with an emphasis on spreading the ball wide and playing a quick tempo game. There was greater intensity and sharpness than has been seen for a while at a Stormers practice.
The players were clinical in what they were doing and were concentrating hard on perfecting their execution.
The atmosphere was professional but still relaxed in what is a very important week for the Stormers. They have to score four tries and get as many points as possible, as they are in a tight scramble for a semi-final berth with five other teams.
Stormers media manager Frikkie Erasmus said on Monday that Rassie Erasmus, the assistant coaches and players were not available to speak to the media on Monday to comment on Myburgh and Le Roux’s possible involvement in the Lions match because the coach needed to plan for Saturday’s game.
“There are a lot of things Rassie needs to deal with,” he said. “They first have to decide whether they will be using Ollie le Roux. We are awaiting calls from SA Rugby with regards to that ruling.
“It is not certain whether Ollie will play against the Lions. The other issues are around planning for the semifinals if we make it.
“Work that Rassie would have done next week may have to be done this week because there could possibly be a lot of travelling involved in next week’s schedule,” said Frikkie Erasmus.
“The guys also have to pack for three weeks now, because if we reach the semi-finals and have to go to Australia or New Zealand, we will fly direct from Johannesburg after the Lions game. There may also be an away final. So Rassie really cannot speak to the media today. He may be available tomorrow.”
Frikkie Erasmus said that Tonderai Chavhanga, who did take part in the first half of the session, will not be considered for the Lions match.
“Tondie started running last week and is just building himself up. We are being very careful with his injury, as it is a hamstring,” he said.
“We will only play him once he is 100 percent. However, he should be ready to play in the semi-final if we get there.”
By Ashfak Mohamed for IOLTweet