With a number of young players, including some very promising home-grown heavies, putting in big performances against the Sharks this weekend, Stormers (and WP) coach Alister Coetzee hopes to shortly announce the retention of most of his “young brigade” on senior contracts.
The Cape union has come under huge pressure in the recent past for failing to hold on to young talent, with most other teams in the country boasting more than a few WP age-group players in their ranks. The most recent high-profile losses included those of Tim Whitehead to the Sharks, and the trio of Johann Sadie, JJ Engelbrecht and Lionel Cronje to the Bulls, although the trend is a long established one indeed. Decisions to invest in high-profile “marquee” signings like Jaque Fourie and Bryan Habana haven’t always come off for the Stormers, particularly when promising youth is lost as a direct result of these actions.
From that point of view, it is most promising to see how the gaps in their pack, especially, seem to be filling with able local youngsters who are being backed to deliver at senior level. Those wondering at the performances of props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe against older players in the Sharks set up should bear in mind that the Stormers backup both of those young men last year already and were not shy to call on them to start when required. Dale Chadwick and Wiehahn Herbst, in contrast, have hardly enjoyed the same treatment and boast a paltry number of Super Rugby minutes between them, despite being part of the Sharks squad for some years.
Province, in fact, even looks like it may start to rival the Bulls as the country’s premier nursery of second-row talent too, with last year’s find Rynard Elstadt already supplanted by young Eben Etzebeth, making great strides at a young age. Along with Kitshoff, Malherbe and Siya Kolisi, Etzebeth is sure to be offered a long contract extension and the Stormers are expecting to make some announcements in this regard in the next week or two, according to their coach.Tweet