Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus believes his team is physically ready for the intensity of the super 14 and are determined to hit the ground running this year.
Ebrahim Moerat writes for Rugby 365 that the Stormers experienced a terrible start in the Super 14 last year, losing their opening three games before salvaging their campaign on the overseas leg and narrowly missing out on a semi-final berth.
The Cape franchise played two Super 14 pre-season matches this year, against Saracens and Boland, and they also had two controlled contact sessions against Maties and Ikeys respectively.
Erasmus is confident that the Stormers are now fully prepared for the rigours of the southern hemisphere showpiece and says they don’t want to get off to a slow start like they did in 2008.
“Maybe a lack of game-time was my mistake last year,” Erasmus told rugby365.com at the High Performance Centre in Bellville.
“For match fitness we only started to get there in game two or three last year. [But]I think we are more contact-fit than we were this time last year.
“We’ve had the two matches and another two controlled contact sessions, so I’m happy with that,” Erasmus said.
Erasmus also indicated that injured wing, Sireli Naqelevuki will only play against the Sharks if he’s fully recovered from a rib injury which he sustained against Boland.
While Stormers captain Jean de Villiers lamented the prospect of the big Fijian’s loss, he is happy with the depth in the squad and believes they have developed into a cohesive unit ahead of this year’s tournament.
“He’s obviously a big guy and a big loss for the team,” de Villiers said.
“But I think there’s more than enough depth in the squad…I also played Test rugby at wing,” he said jokingly.
“Last year we were a bunch of individuals with talent but I think we are now more of a unit that can really challenge and win the tournament.
“So we are looking forward to the challenge.”Tweet