Stormers

More trouble for Stormers

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With the dark clouds of an “investigation” still hanging over his head, Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe has revealed that his team has suffered further injury setbacks.

Nick Mallett, Western Province’s director of rugby, and Rob Wagner, managing director of WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd, are due to fly to Australia this week to conduct an investigation into the Stormers’ poor performances.

The probe will go ahead, despite, the Stormers’ stunning 30-17 win over the Hurricanes in Wellington last Friday. Before the Week Five win over the Hurricanes, the Stormers had lost three of their four previous matches.

But Van der Merwe was more concerned about the injury situation in his team than the pending probe.

The Stormers impressive victory over the Hurricanes in Palmerston North has been blighted by injuries to two key players.

Tighthead prop Brok Harris had to leave the field in the seventh minute in clear discomfort, while utility back Brent Russell also exited the action in the second half as a result of an injury.

“Brok [Harris] has a sprained ankle and will be evaluated early in the week. It appears Brent [Russell] suffered some concussion and the medical team will do a CogSport concussion test on him on Monday,” the coach said.

Russell’s chances of playing against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday are not good, but Gio Aplon, who started the game at wing, performed strongly when he replaced Russell at fullback.

There was good news for Stormers fans too though as wing Egon Seconds passed a fitness test at the weekend on his troublesome hamstring and will be staying on with the team.

Versatile back Conrad Jantjes and hooker Tiaan Liebenberg, however, are on their way back to Cape Town because of injuries. Dylan Des Fountain and Huia Edmunds will take their places.

Van der Merwe attributed the team’s victory over the Hurricanes to team work.

He said he was very happy with the win and the performance.

“I am very happy with the win. The guys played as a team, they played for each other and they showed that they can develop into a devastating combination.”

Van der Merwe, however, realises that the pressure is not off the team yet after a slow start to their campaign.

“The nature of this competition is that there will always be pressure. There are 13 rounds of matches, one after the other, and each week brings new challenges and different pressures,” he said.

“As far as the week leading up to the match, there was pressure from back home but we remained focused on the task at hand and it showed in the result.”

Comparing the performance against the Hurricanes to the one of the previous week, when they came unstuck against the Highlanders, Van der Merwe said: “We limited our mistakes and succeeded in putting the Hurricanes under pressure from the start.

“We always said that we wanted to start with the same intensity as there was at the end of the previous match and we achieved that. We have now scored 11 tries in our last three matches, which show that we are consistently improving.”

A feature of the Cape franchise’s performance was the huge contribution made by the Springboks.

De Wet Barry and Jean de Villiers at centre were particularly outstanding.

Van der Merwe, however, had praise for all his Boks and didn’t want to single out anybody.

“All of the Springboks put their hands up in this game. Jean, De Wet, Bolla, Schalk Burger, Eddie Andrews, Gerrie Britz and Breyton Paulse all put in a monumental effort for the Stormers cause.”

The young Peter Grant was equally impressive at fly-half and attacked the gain line relentlessly for 80 minutes, causing confusion in the Hurricanes’ defence. His coach was duly full of praise for the former SA Schools fly-half’s effort.

“I was very impressed with the way he attacked the advantage line and the number of time he broke that line. His defence was also fantastic and it was no wonder that he was singled out by the media as the stand-out player on the day.”

 

365 Digital

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