Rassie preparing for a forward battle




Rassie Erasmus who took over the Stormers last year after leaving the Cheetahs is preparing his team for a physical onslaught from the Bulls in their opening Vodacom Super 14 match at Newlands on Saturday.

Proof of Erasmus’ game plan is that on Wednesday he announced a substitutes’ bench comprising five forwards ‘ including two locks in former Bull Adriaan Fondse and Ross Skeate.

‘We have two locks on the bench which differs slightly from the norm. Both Ross and Andries (Bekker) are confident to cover at flank, and if it comes to that (hooker) Schalk Brits can also cover loose-forward,’ explains Erasmus on the Stormers site.

Erasmus also explains why he preferred the promising and fiery Francois van der Merwe to Fondse in the starting lineup. ‘Adriaan played in our one warm-up games and then in the other contact sessions he was carrying a bit of a niggle.

“That’s why we are starting with Francois. He has taken part in all the contact sessions and it makes sense to start with the guy who is used to the intensity of contact.’

In the backline Conrad Jantjes was ruled out after undergoing surgery on his thumb at the end of last year so Gio Aplon gets a chance to show of his range of attacking skills against the Bulls.

‘Gio’s boot is big enough to cover the loss of Connie, while he also brings a lot to the party in other areas. They do have a couple of guys who can kick the ball far. Fourie du Preez, for example, can kick the ball from one try-line to the other at chest height,’ he said.

‘But Bolla Conradie is a good kicker, and Ricky gives us another option with his left boot.’

‘Even though they’ve had some changes in coaching staff and lost some senior players, the Bulls pride themselves in their systems, structures and culture.’

‘The plan is to go out and plan your lineouts, scrums, attacking game, defense, kicking game etc. for every single match in order to win. So, yes, the Bulls is helluva important. But so are the Sharks, the Crusaders and every one of the games following that first one.’

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