Stormers

Van der Merwe set to re-apply

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Kobus van der Merwe may be in charge of Western Province’s 2007 Currie Cup campaign, but he does not know yet what the future holds for him beyond this season.

After yet another indifferent Super 14 campaign in charge of the Stormers, Van der Merwe has now found himself having to re-apply for the coaching job in Cape Town next season – at the insistance of the Stormers Board. But the defiant WP head coach told this website that he would most likely throw his name into the hat once again.

“I don’t know [what is happening],” Van der Merwe said. “There are a lot of rumours going around. I will possibly re-apply [to coach the Stormers].”

However, despite the uncertainty surrounding his future, Van der Merwe is determined to forge ahead with the Western Province team in what he hopes will be a successful Currie Cup competition, Super 14 results notwithstanding.

“We didn’t achieve our [Super14] goal of a top-seven finish, but we weren’t far off,” he said. “The team was inconsistent and the first three games, in particular, cost us.”

One of the factors that could help Van der Merwe remain in charge of the Stormers in 2008 is the new talent emerging in the region, with the former Griquas coach saying: “There are exciting players coming up from the Vodacom Cup. Peter Myburgh, for instance, is one of those.”

Another string in the underfire Van der Merwe’s bow could be the individual performances from certain players during the Super 14, with that hard-earned experience likely to prove invaluable in the Currie Cup.

“There were a lot of positives in the Super 14,” concurred Van der Merwe. “What was particularly pleasing was all the individual improvement we saw in the young players like Peter Grant, Justin Melck and Schalk Ferreira.”

But all talk and hopes aside, Van der Merwe’s only realistic option of staying in charge next season would be a successful Currie Cup campaign and he has wasted no time, with the WP squad already hard at work on the practice field and two training games on the cards against Griquas and the Griffons.

Van der Merwe said he wanted “one hard game” against Griquas to practice getting the structures in place and “then we wanted one against the Griffons where we could experiment”.

Whilst WP have not been as hard hit by national call-ups as the Bulls and the Sharks, Van der Merwe will, however, be without his regular captain Luke Watson. In the absence of the new Bok flanker, the coach has looked to inside centre De Wet Barry to lead the team.

“De Wet has the ability to motivate the players and he sets high standards,” explained Van der Merwe. “He’s a 120 per cent kind of guy. He’s also been working with Luke for a while now.”

By Gareth Green 365 Digital

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