Stormers

Van der Merwe’s Storming triumvirate

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Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe has a luxury which Springbok coach Jake White can only dream of – an almost endless array of backline options, especially amongst his inside backs.


Fly-half is the one position where White is currently struggling with a few posers, while Van der Merwe’s only concern is how game time each of his three top class fly-halves will get.


With Peter Grant, Naas Olivier and Brent Russell all able to fill the pivotal role of No.10, Van der Merwe is happy with the depth of his backline reserves as he prepares for the marathon that is the Super 14.


Speaking to rugby365.com the Stormers mentor expressed his delight at not only the options available to him, but also his preparations for next year and the conditioning of his players.


But what excites Van der Merwe most is the fact that he has game-breakers like Springbok veteran Breyton Paulse and utility back Brent Russell to work with in his per-season build-up.


“Breyton [Paulse] and Brent [Russell] are going flat out in training, having not been named in the Bok touring squad,” Van der Merwe said about two of his star players.


“After a decent break, the players are fresh and responding well to our conditioning programme,” he added.


Van der Merwe confirmed that Russell would get extended game time in his preferred position of No.10.


Asked about how he will use/rotate his fly-half trio, Van der Merwe pointed out that the Super 14 is a long and arduous contest, and, with Peter Grant’s Currie Cup success at inside centre, and the exceptional versatility of Russell, all three fly-halves can expect “to get their chance”.


Russell’s move to the Stormers from the Sharks was largely predicated on his desire to start at fly-half, and it is certain that van der Merwe will oblige him.


The Stormers coach is inundated with backline talent.


He says he is particularly excited about another new signing from the Bulls, former Western Province Under-19 player Dylan DesFountain, an outside centre who he says is “a player to watch”.


Another new signing is former Springbok Conrad Jantjes, who will be looking to harness his natural footballing skills in a bid to reclaim a Springbok jersey.


There is literally an overflow of exciting backline players to watch out for in the Stormers squad.


Indeed a contracted Springbok like De Wet Barry has no guarantees of a place in the line-up at all.


From Breyton Paulse to Gio Aplon, from Joe Pietersen to Werner Greeff, the Stormers have an exciting blend of experience and young talent.


With the complement of other form players such as Sarel Potgieter and Corne Uys, the Stormers seem to possess all the ingredients necessary to play vintage Stormers rugby – a brand of rugby that has been all too absent from the South African rugby landscape.


The Stormers will only commence their tactical training on December 4, when their contracted Boks are available – those contracted players who were not included in the end-of-year tour.


“It has been frustrating, but these players have been on the Springbok training programme, so it is not like they have been doing nothing. We bought into the system for the good of the Springboks and their World Cup campaign, so we are not unhappy with the arrangement,” van der Merwe said.


Luke Watson will also continue his Currie Cup captaincy into Super rugby.


“Luke has done a fantastic job so far – he is the right guy for the job. He has the backing of all the players.”


Meanwhile, players still recovering from injury such as Schalk Brits, Tonderai Chavhanga and Jantjes, are all actively participating in training, and will soon be at full fitness again.


Another exciting new player (the list is endless), Sireli Naqelevuki, is currently doing duty for the Fijian Sevens side, and will rejoin training after the tournament in George.


By Chris Waldburger 365 Digital

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