Sometimes in this job you have to write something that you really don’t want to – and I think today is one of those occasions for me; I need to pay my respects to the Stormers pack who, quite honestly, are playing pretty astounding rugby at the moment.
Having gone undefeated in their first 5 games, long after all others have picked up at least a single loss, the Stormers are sitting pretty ahead of their tour which gets under way against the second-placed Highlanders this weekend. More importantly, though, the Cape side, having seen off the challenge of the Bulls in the last round, can deservingly claim the bragging rights for having the best pack in the competition a third of the way into the competition.
Now, we know that our friends in the Cape like to celebrate early, so this is not one of those “give the Stormers the trophy” kind of articles; however it is a nod to the work that Matt Proudfoot is doing in the Cape, because the way in which players young and old alike are standing up and playing effective, disciplined rugby is great to see. Rookies like Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi and the two young props (who battled at scrum time against the Bulls, it must be said) are standing up and playing like men with far more experience, while the old hands like Andries Bekker, Tiaan Liebenberg and Duane Vermuelen are also in good form for the men from the Cape.
Not that the Bulls were all that far behind on Saturday, though, although in the case of the team in pink, discipline was nowhere near good enough. That said, there was nothing wrong with the intensity.
It’s a little worrying from a Sharks point of view, given the recent woes up-front; John Plumtree’s men appear a fair way off the pace set by the Stormers and Bulls amongst the forwards and I’d imagine that even the Cheetahs would fancy their chances against the Sharks up-front. Men like Bismarck du Plessis, Steven Sykes, Willem Alberts and the phenomenal young Marcell Coetzee seem to be going out of their way to re-establish the dominance of the Sharks pack; they’ll need each and every one of their mates in the black and white to raise their game accordingly, though, when it comes time for the return visits of the Stormers and Bulls to Kings Park later in the year.
The Bulls might just find themselves needing to rebuild just a little more than expected, though, with forwards coach Johan van Graan widely tipped to be called up to Heyneke Meyer’s Bok management team, along with defence specialist John McFarland and conditioning coach Basil Carzis. For the Stormers, though, Proudfoot is going nowhere and fans of the blue and white hoops should be openly thanking their lucky stars that they have such a great forwards coach on board.Tweet