KSA Shark ©

Stormers soft underbelly to be tested

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news, Stormers, Super 14 on 23 Jan 2009 at 06:00
Tagged with :

The touring Saracens are well-equipped to test the general perception that the Stormers’ forward play has been the side’s soft underbelly for some time now.

The IOL reports that the English tourists have a record as a side studded with physicality and brawn, and that aspect of their game will come to light at Newlands on Sunday (kick-off 4pm) when the Stormers play their first Super 14 warm-up match for the season.

Saracens have also established themselves as the best scrummagers in European competitions and, under their new Director of Rugby Eddie Jones, they stepped up the intensity upfront this season.

Former All Black great Chris Jack, who has been named as Saracens’ match day captain for Sunday, said on his arrival in the Mother City on Thursday that the Northern Hemisphere playing conditions demanded that teams have a solid pack as a platform for their game plan.

“In the North, the competitions are played in a more strict, forward-dominated way,” said Jack, a world-famous line-out jumper who will be playing flank against the Stormers on Sunday.

“You play on frozen pitches at times and you need to play to structured patterns. That’s why the game is slower in the Northern Hemisphere.”

Another member of the Saracens tour who addressed the media on arrival was Wikus van Heerden, the former Bulls and Springbok loosie. He too spoke about the dominant role of the forwards in Europe.

“There is a great emphasis on forward play and just happens to be that way because of the surface,” said van Heerden. “It can be a real grind playing in the mud and the forwards have to play like a unit.”

Last season, Stormers head coach Rassie Erasmus brought in Adriaan Fondse as a first step to add some grunt to his pack but then, during the season, several key forwards were laid low by a succession of injuries as the Super 14 went its course.

As a result, the Stormers’ pack never really had a chance to settle down as a unit and opposition coaches always targeted what they felt what was the soft underbelly of the Cape franchise.

Stormers’ assistant coach Gary Gold has also admitted that there was a lot of talk about the Stormers’ ability upfront but he felt that the Saracens clash will go a long way to test the progress of his side’s efforts to beef up their general forward play. Gold said that most teams battled to cope with Saracens’ forward play in Europe.

According to skipper Jack, Saracens will have to adjust quickly to the unfamiliar Super 14 rules, as well as the faster tempo of the game in the Southern Hemisphere.

He also said that the team would be trying out new combinations in an effort to bolster the reserve strength in the squad. The rest of the Saracens squad will be playing in a European Cup match in France on Friday evening.

Another familiar face in the touring party was that of former Stormers and WP halfback Neil de Kock, who is nursing an arm injury and will be out of action for five more weeks.

“When it was penned on our calendar that we were going to Cape Town and playing the Stormers at Newlands, I was really looking forward to it but, as rugby goes, I unfortunately broke my arm two weeks ago, and am going to be out for a while,” said de Kock. “I’m massively disappointed that I can’t play against my old team, but also disappointed that I can’t contribute to the Saracens team for the next couple of weeks.

“It’s frustrating but at the same time it’s good to be out here with the guys as part of the training camp.”

With De Kock sidelined, the Newlands faithful will still see one of their favourite sons in a Saracens jersey. The Stellenbosch-born Cobus Visagie will be propping the Saracens scrum and the strongman should pose a problem or two for the Stormers’ front rowers.

The former Paul Roos Gymnasium schoolboy last played for the Stormers and WP in the 2003 season.


  • If stormers suffer any injuries, and they well could, it would be a huge setback to their aspirations this season. Their pack is not really as strong as some of the others (certainly on paper probably the softest in SA) and any reduction in playing staff, esp amongst the forwards, is going to hurt them.

  • Comment 1, posted at 23.01.09 06:46:31 by Baldrick Reply
  • Aus to get 310 minimum. Is anyone watching the tripe we are serving up? 👿

  • Comment 2, posted at 23.01.09 06:54:16 by klempie Reply
  • OK that’s better. A mini collapse. 4 down now.

  • Comment 3, posted at 23.01.09 07:32:06 by klempie Reply
  • @klempie (Comment 2) :
    An insult to tripe… which happens to be a delicacy…

  • Comment 4, posted at 23.01.09 07:41:36 by blckshrk - PROTEAS Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • cricket thread up!!! 😎

  • Comment 5, posted at 23.01.09 07:43:26 by wpw Reply
  • HA! Another! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 6, posted at 23.01.09 07:44:05 by klempie Reply

  • @wpw (Comment 5) : Finally! 🙄

  • Comment 7, posted at 23.01.09 07:44:31 by klempie Reply

  • @Baldrick (Comment 1) :

    I don’t believe our pack is soft. Maybe not the strongest compared to the Sharks or Bulls but we certainly not soft.

    We finished 5th last season and lost out on a semi final berth to the Hurricanes on points difference.

  • Comment 8, posted at 23.01.09 07:48:09 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 8) : Are you crying there buddy? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 9, posted at 23.01.09 08:07:58 by blckshrk - PROTEAS Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blckshrk – PROTEAS (Comment 9) : 👿

    Not at all… I just think the perception of us having ‘light 5’ can be a bit ‘overused’

    I mean really now, we finished above the Bulls, Lions and Cheetahs in last years S14 and one doesn’t achieve that by having a ‘light 5’

    In the past yes, but I think things have changed since Rassie took over.

  • Comment 10, posted at 23.01.09 08:12:58 by wpw Reply
  • wys them wes

  • Comment 11, posted at 23.01.09 08:18:51 by PJLD Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 10) : I’m with you…Bekker, Fondse and Co = epitome of hard-knocks… 🙄

  • Comment 12, posted at 23.01.09 08:26:22 by blckshrk - PROTEAS Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blckshrk – PROTEAS (Comment 12) :

    i detect a hint of sarcasm there boet… 😡

  • Comment 13, posted at 23.01.09 08:29:50 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 13) : Damn, the rolling eyes gave it away, didn’t they? 😆

  • Comment 14, posted at 23.01.09 08:33:02 by blckshrk - PROTEAS Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • Stormers = Sta Soft 🙄

  • Comment 15, posted at 23.01.09 08:34:38 by Charlie Reply

  • @blckshrk – PROTEAS (Comment 12) :Rather fondse than hargreaves

  • Comment 16, posted at 23.01.09 08:38:18 by PJLD Reply
  • @PJLD (Comment 16) : Who knows what Big Al will look and play like when he reaches Adriaan’s age… 😀

  • Comment 17, posted at 23.01.09 08:45:28 by blckshrk - PROTEAS Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @Charlie (Comment 15) : 😛 Stormers= Empty soft-pack…

  • Comment 18, posted at 23.01.09 08:46:33 by blckshrk - PROTEAS Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!

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