South African Super 14 teams are known for being poor travellers, but Stormers captain Jean de Villiers is not concerned about the prospect of having to win away from home in this year’s tournament.
Ebrahim Moerat reports for Rugby 365 that the Stormers kick off their Super 14 campaign against the Sharks at Newlands, followed by a string of home games, before they get a bye and embark on their overseas leg.
The Cape franchise got off to the worst possible start in 2008, losing their opening three games in South Africa before turning things around in Australasia and narrowly missing out on the semifinals.
While De Villiers stressed the importance of early wins at Newlands he revealed that he won’t be too bothered if they go down in the early stages of the southern hemisphere showpiece.
“The bye weekend comes at a time when it will be a perfect opportunity to reassess our goals according to where we are,” De Villiers told rugby365.com at the High Performance Centre in Bellville.
“We recovered well last season after a poor start, but the bottom line was that our shabby start left us too much to do, and we were always chasing the game after that.
“A defeat or two won’t be a train smash before we go on tour, but we have five games in Australasia this year, so we are going to need a good platform to play off.
“Fortunately we have a team that enjoys touring, that is comfortable playing away from home, so even though we play three of last year’s semifinalists away from home, I am confident we can get three wins out of our five tour matches.
“Of course, we will start out aiming to win them all,” De Villiers said.
Stormers boss Rassie Erasmus echoed his captain’s sentiments and says the team is not feeling any added pressure form the fans’ expectations.
“There’s a bit of a misperception that the players play for the fans,” Erasmus said during a break in pre-season training.
“There is pressure from fans’ expectations but they don’t make us believe in something else.
“We believe in what we are doing but we also don’t want to disappoint the fans,” he explained.
With the Stormers Super 14 opener looming, Erasmus says the Sharks are somewhat of an unknown factor as they haven’t been involved in many Super 14 warm-ups, apart form the Bulls last Wednesday.
The last time the two Coastal franchises met was in the Currie Cup in 2008, but Erasmus says it can hardly be used in determining the strength of the Sharks outfit for this year’s Super 14.
“We haven’t played the Sharks since the Currie Cup in 2008,” Erasmus said.
“[And] the Currie Cup is a lot more about structure and it’s totally different to the Super 14. You also play with all your international players in the Super 14.
“So, I can’t really gauge where they are and say who is the favourite or underdog.
“They are a form Super 14 side and I’m not sure what they will throw at us.”Tweet