Stormers’ captain Jean de Villiers has admitted that the “greater expectations” of the Stormers in this year’s Super14 are justified.
If the Cape side had scored one more try in last year’s final game against the Lions, which they won 22-13, they would have qualified for the semifinals, according to Stephen Nell of Sport24.
However, the Hurricanes ended up qualifying thanks to a better points difference.
“If we were offered a fifth place at the beginning of last year, we would probably have taken it. But ultimately it was disappointing to finish fifth,” said De Villiers.
“The goal is to grow in what we do. We believe we can take the next step. We have the players and hopefully we get off to a better start than last year.”
Last year the Stormers lost their first three games in the Super14. However, the defeat of 0-22 against the Crusaders was the last one by a Stormers or Western Province side at full strength on their home field.
That home record will come under threat on February 14 when the Stormers kick off their campaign against the Sharks.
John Plumtree’s side will be among the favourites, so the Stormers could hardly have asked for a tougher start.
“Who do you choose to start against? That’s a good game in which to measure yourself. It will be tough throughout the competition,” said De Villiers.
One of the big challenges the Stormers have to overcome is a murderous Australasian tour that takes in five games.
Last year the Stormers got their campaign on track by winning three out of four games on tour. It’s for that reason that they’ll take on the tour with confidence.
Meanwhile, there was good news on Thursday regarding flyhalf Willem de Waal, who injured his hand during training this week.
Stormers spokesperson Frikkie Erasmus said De Waal would be ready to start the Super14.
The Stormers play warm-up games against Saracens at Newlands and Boland in Wellington on 25 and 31 January respectively.
While it’s likely that Peter Grant will remain the first-choice for the No 10 jersey, De Waal’s educated boot provides the Stormers with an interesting strategic option this year.
Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus has demonstrated his ability to vary his tactics as the situation demands.
He can therefore keep opponents guessing with the permutations at flyhalf.Tweet