Stormers

Stormers look to end with a bang

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After a weekend which saw all the other South African teams go down to foreign foe, attention shifts to the resting Stormers who, according to Justin Melck, are looking to turn their fortunes around as they return to home soil.

The Stormers did not have a terrible tour.

In fact, another win would have ensured it was a fantastic tour; a tour as historic as the Bulls in recording three wins out of five.

But alas, it was not to be. And, as the team re-gathers for their return to action this weekend, unlikely Stormers star and number eight Justin Melck reflects on what has been, and what is still to come for the petulant Cape Town side.

And according to him, being at home might just be the tonic for a rejuvenated Stormers.

“Five weeks on tour do get a bit long, and it’s good to be able to sleep in your own bed again.

“The break has also been needed. Apart from a few gym sessions, it’s just been about spending time with family and friends, before we meet up again on Monday.”

But there is no doubt that a tour of three losses is vastly disappointing.

“The tour was tough. We played tough teams in some tough places, and while we did come away with two wins and nine log points, and in that way there was some success, but we are disappointed, especially after the Crusaders game, where we didn’t play too badly.

“They just made us pay for crucial little mistakes. You think you are doing well against them, and then you look up at the scoreboard and you see a different story.

“They punished us. But we can’t ponder on it; we have to look forward.”

While the losses to the Crusaders and the Brumbies were fairly convincing, it was the first loss on tour to the Highlanders which has proved to be the Stormers’ bane.

“We could have won the game against the Highlanders, we just played really badly to begin with – it was a learning curve.”

While the Stormers were away, controversy resounded over the future of coach Kobus van der Merwe. Melck assures that boardroom issues did not affect the team.

“I, personally, am not too sure what has been going on, we just tend to focus on the rugby.”

Indeed Melck, after not being included in the match 22 for the first couple of rounds has proved that that focus has been fruitful in terms of his form.

Usually a flank, his inclusion at number eight has provided some missing balance in a loose trio that consists of two fetchers.

“I am just happy to be playing again. There are certain things I still need to work on, such as not giving away unnecessary penalties, but generally I have been happy with my performance.

“Playing at eight has not been a problem, as it is the position I have played in for most of my career, especially at Maties and for the SA under 21 side [in 2004]. Being a little shorter than most number eights meant the switch when I played in the more senior ranks.”

As for the remainder of the season, Melck affirms that the Stormers are determined to end with a bang.

“There is still a chance of making it to the semi-final, but mostly we just want to win at home and play some exciting rugby for our fans.

“We want to re-kindle some of our pre-season form and prove that we are able to play at the level to which we aspire.

“It’s about belief, and we want to take some self-belief into the Currie Cup this year as well into next year’s Super 14.”

By Chris Waldburger

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