Highlanders Scrumming Power concerns Rassie




The Highlanders’ scrummaging power is high up on the list of concerns for Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus ahead of Saturday’s Super 14 clash at Newlands.

“There is a tradition at the Highlanders of being very powerful scrummagers,” said Erasmus.

“It’s an area they are really proud of, but we are prepared to guts it out against their power push.”

The South Islanders, although often on the losing side have always impressed at scrum time this season.

“They’ve scrummed really well against the top sides, and know its going to be a tough one on Saturday.

We expect it to be tough and we noted how well they scrummed against the Bulls last week.”

The Stormers’ new halfback pairing of Tony Brown and Bolla Conradie is another area of concern for Erasmus.

“We (the Stormers) can expect, without a doubt, hiccups here and there.


“It has happened all over the show this season,” argued Erasmus.

“One only has to look at the way the Crusaders played when they made a few changes against the Lions recently. The Crusaders were down 6-3 at halftime.

“It was Crusaders’ way of keeping players fresh.”

However, Erasmus is confident that the match winning skills of Conradie and Brown will prevail on Saturday.

“The kind of strengths that Bolla brings to this game is ideal against the Highlanders. He has great kicking ability and offers a crisp service when sending his line away,” said Erasmus.

“He’s been in the Stormers’ set-up for the past five or six seasons and knows the team well.

“Tony is an experienced player and he knows his way around when he’s moved from one team to the next in his career. Tony does not have to prove anything.

“Given how the Highlanders play, our halfbacks will be crucial when there is a need to relieve the pressure.”

The unorthodox play of the youthful Highlanders has also captured the imagination of the Stormers mentor.

“They are really competitive. They tend to run the ball from anywhere,” Erasmus said.

“They don’t let you get out of your half easily – they tend to pin you down there.

“They have lost quite a few games by very narrow margins.

“Being on a tour now will help their new coach (Glenn Moore) to step up their performances, just like it was when I started out as a new coach with the Stormers.

“The players needed to get used to me, and our tour to Australia and New Zealand helped a great deal in that regard.”

Wing Dylan des Fountain, who has stepped in for the injured Tonderai Chavhanga, will also be under the spotlight.

“Dylan has been on tour with us, and he’s obviously not entirely match fit.

“But he’s trained for some and he knows all our moves,” Erasmus assured. “He would have made the starting line-ups in the past but then he suffered an injury.

“The same could be said about Schalla (Schalk Ferreira). You can’t buy match fitness.”

Ferreira will make his first 2008 Super 14 appearance, in the place of the injured JD Moller at loosehead prop. The matter of substitution is also weighing heavily on Erasmus’ mind.

“One goes into the match with ideas, and you’ll even tell players when they are coming off or going on. But is does not always work out like that,” Erasmus explained.

“Last week we had to replace two players as a result of injury, and that threw our substitution plans in disarray.

“The injuries were so disruptive that we ended the match playing Robbie Diack (a loose forward) at lock. “Substitutions are sometimes forced as a result of the way the match is going.

The tactics of the opposition may not be what you’ve come to expect and then players with special skills need to be roped in to change the course of play.”

The Highlanders will be running out on the lush Newlands turf with a proud record against the Stormers at Newlands.

In six visits to the Mother City since 1998, the Highlanders have won four times, but given the present form of the Stormers, the New Zealand tourists are unlikely to add to those victories.

Sapa –

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