Storm clouds gather for Cape team


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The storm clouds are truly gathering for the embattled Stormers outfit, following their humiliating 26-13 loss to the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday.

Western Province director of rugby Nick Mallett and Stormers managing director Rob Wagner depart for Australia on Sunday to conduct an investigation into the poor performances of the team this season – a campaign which has now seen them yield just two wins from six starts.

While Mallett and Wagner have both been at pains to state that they will take a “sensitive approach” to the investigation and make every effort not to disrupt the team, no doubt it will add further pressure on the coaching staff – under head coach Kobus van der Merwe.

Mallett and Wagner must report back their findings to the board of the Stormers, but it is unlikely that anything that Van der Merwe and company (including the players) will tell them in the next week will change their views much.

What will be of much bigger concern to Van der Merwe is not so much the pending investigation – he already knows that Mallett has been calling for his head for over a year now and nothing will change that in the next week – but the growing injury list which will force him to send an SOS for a replacement prop to South Africa.

Springbok prop Eddie Andrews is the latest casualty, having suffered a fractured nose in the loss to the Brumbies. Andrews has been ruled out for the remainder of the Super 14 competition.

The Stormers, already without hooker Tiaan Liebenberg (returned home with a fractured hand) and prop Brok Harris (ankle injury suffered against the Hurricanes) will now call for a replacement front row forward from South Africa for the remainder of their Australasian tour.

It certainly won’t get any easier, as the Stormers are still to face the Waratahs in Sydney next Saturday (March 17) and the defending champion Crusaders in Christchurch a week later.

Van der Merwe said the loss of Andrews was a “big blow”.

Finding a replacement has proved tricky, as the most obvious choice – Boland’s former Bulls prop Andries Human – is still sidelined with an injury.

Griquas tighthead Eugene van Staden may answer the SOS.

Another major concern is the team’s inability to sustain the intensity and form that saw them record a very impressive 30-17 win against the Hurricanes in Wellington the previous week.

Captain Luke Watson, at a loss to explain his team’s erratic form, lamented the penalties conceded by his team in Canberra.

“It was a dismal performance, not worthy of the calibre of players we currently possess,” an obviously disappointed Watson said.

“Our discipline let us down. Too many times we were penalised for stupid things like hands in the ruck or holding on at the breakdown.”

365 Digital

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