HomeSportRugbyStormers in much better shape now

Stormers in much better shape now

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DURBAN — They may still be without Duane Vermeulen, who has been given a 65% to 70% chance of playing, but the Stormers will be much stronger and in a better shape physically for Saturday’s Super Rugby semi–final than they were for a league game in Durban a month and a half ago.

The Stormers lost 25-20 on May 26, but were outmuscled and man-handled to a disturbing degree in the first half of that game, and trailed 25-6 at a stage of the second half before launching a late fightback.

However, while the Stormers of recent vintage have seldom been forced to step back like they were that day, coach Allister Coetzee has not forgotten about the space that his team were in then.

“We lost Joe Pietersen in the build-up to that game and then you will recall that Siya Kolisi was ruled out just before the game and we ended up starting with Deon Fourie on the flank,” said Coetzee.

“In addition there were a number of players who had played many games successively and were starting to feel it. Andries Bekker for instance was not in a good space at that time. He was not playing well and it was because he was in discomfort.

It was after that game that he was ruled out for several weeks, forcing him to miss the international series.

“Andries is much better now, and the whole team has benefited from the break. Apart from waiting on the Duane situation, we have no other players carrying any injuries, and the week we have had off has been good for us. We are definitely better off physically now than we were at the end of May, which was when we played against the Sharks.”

This will in fact, be the first game that the Stormers have both Bekker and young Springbok Eben Etzebeth back together since the trip to Durban.

Etzebeth is over the ankle and shoulder injuries that prevented him from playing the last sequence of league games against the Lions, Cheetahs and Rebels, which was when Bekker returned to the team.

“It’s important to have Eben back, as the Sharks have a massive pack of forwards. Even the players coming off the bench for them maintain that big pack. But I am very comfortable with our pack,” said Coetzee.

However, if he is not declared fit and Coetzee is prepared to give him until as late as possible to prove his readiness, the coach is quite comfortable starting with Fourie at No 8.

“We all saw how Deon went in the game against the Rebels when he played No 8.
“We don’t see any need to change that if Duane isn’t fit.”

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