The Stormers are not going to fall for the “funny things” that the Reds are capable of coming up with, and they are rather concentrating on their own game ahead of Friday’s big Super 14 clash in Brisbane.
That was the message from Stormers forwards coach Matt Proudfoot this week. The Reds have been rejuvenated under coach Ewen McKenzie in 2010 and have added a combative pack to a highly dangerous backline to climb to fourth on the log.
The Cape Times reports that like all Australian teams, the Reds try to get on top by using unusual methods in the scrums, lineouts or on attack. They even found ways of stopping the Bulls’ powerful maul last week, but Proudfoot says that the Stormers are ready for anything.
“The Reds use scrumhalf Will Genia cleverly around the breakdowns. He tries to dart around the fringes and the blindside, and that opens up space for flyhalf Quade Cooper to keep the ball for longer and to attack on the openside,” Proudfoot said from Surfers Paradise on the Australian Gold Coast.
“They are always trying funny things, like all Australian teams. We saw in the Bulls game that they also look to mix it up in the lineouts. Their physicality and desire has impressed me. But our focus is on what we want to do.
“We don’t want to change anything, including how we have been playing for the last few weeks and in terms of the team that will play. You could set yourself up to fail if you change something just because of what you think the opposition team could do.”
A clever tactic that the Western Force used to great effect in beating the Stormers in the first tour match was to kick the ball behind Fijian wing Sireli Naqelevuki and make him turn around. Naqelevuki struggled to deal with those kicks, but has since produced two strong performances against the Blues and Chiefs. He also fielded kicks well in those two games.
Proudfoot says that the Stormers coaching staff have worked with Naqelevuki in training on that specific tactic.
“Our kicking coach Greg Hechter has been working on that situation with Sireli from after the Force game,” he said. “The Chiefs also kicked quite a bit at Sireli last week, and he showed that he can handle it.
“He ran the ball back strongly and even stepped their defence a few times. If Sireli steps you and cuts the line, what are you going to do then? So I have no worries if the Reds try to use the Force’s tactic of kicking the ball behind Sireli.”
Proudfoot said that the fact that the Stormers are likely to pick an unchanged team for the third week in a row breeds the confidence seen in the Chiefs game. They played free-flowing rugby in Hamilton and were not scared to take chances.
The likes of Deon Fourie, Anton van Zyl and Pieter Louw also give the team great momentum when they come off the bench in the second half.
“Going in with the same team is a sign of maturity within the squad,” he said. “All 26 players on tour are backing the starting line-up 100 percent.
“Those who are not playing or are sitting on the bench have been fantastic. The substitutes know their roles when they come on, and we have tried to involve the guys who don’t play in the planning for games. So it is a good place to be in.”
The Stormers have thrilled their supporters in Cape Town and at the grounds in Auckland and Hamilton with some terrific rugby, but with it being the last week of the tour, the team may be longing for home. But Proudfoot and star lock Andries Bekker said this week that the Stormers are intent on doing well against the Reds.
“I hear that it’s nice and cold in Cape Town, so the people must drink more red wine!” Bekker remarked. “But we are not thinking of going home. We know we have a job to do, and we have been working hard to be prepared for the Reds game.”
The Stormers want to avoid falling victim to the “one-foot-on-the-plane” syndrome South African teams appear to suffer from in the last week of a tour. The match is vital in the race for semi-final spots, with the Stormers third on 33 points, and the Reds fourth, just three behind.
“We don’t want to view it as the last week of the tour,” Proudfoot said. “We are actually in the middle of our season and we still have quite a few games left. We are back into the rhythm we had in our games at Newlands.”
Meanwhile, New Zealander Chris Pollock will be the referee in Brisbane. Pollock also handled the Stormers-Cheetahs game at Newlands this season.Tweet