Super Rugby: Jantjies gets another start Stormers at a crossroads

2013-03-07 00:00

DHL STORMERS coach Allister Coetzee has resisted the temptation to tamper with his team selection for Saturday’s crucial Super Rugby clash against the Chiefs at Newlands.

With two losses in two starts, there have been calls in the Cape for changes to the starting team, but the only change to the Stormers squad for this clash with the tournament champions sees Tiaan Liebenberg return to the bench as the back-up hooker.

“For us it’s important to keep backing the players,” said coach Coetzee.

“Although we lost against the Sharks last week, there was a big improvement on the opening game against the Bulls, and we know we just have to get a few execution issues right and we will be back in it again. We saw no reason to change.

“It’s up to the players to back up and show their commitment and responsibility,” added the coach.

Coetzee admitted that his men are at a crossroads after a start which sees them with just one bonus point from their efforts so far.

A defeat to the Chiefs, said Coetzee, will mean that his team have a long road to travel to come back into the championship race.

“It’s not melodramatic to say we are at a crossroads. We need to start winning. This is a home game, we are back at Newlands, we have passionate support behind us and that should give us an extra push. We’ve had a great week of preparation.

“It will be tough though. We are playing against a side that has already scored one good win away from home this season. They have a great pack of forwards and if they dominate there they have backs that can tear any opposition defence apart.”

Coetzee said that Liebenberg was back in the mix because he was now fit enough to play at least a half and, as a Springbok, he will bring experience to the squad.

“I wouldn’t have selected Tiaan if he wasn’t ready,” said the coach.

On the subject of Elton Jantjies’s retention ahead of Peter Grant, Coetzee said it was both an integration and a fitness issue.

“Peter needs time to be absorbed back into our game-plan, but what is also crucial is that he hasn’t played that much rugby in Japan.

“He can contribute in the Peter Grant way over 40 minutes, and if he had to because of injury, he could play 80 minutes, but if he did then I don’t think we would be getting the full benefit of his ability as he would be a bit short of his best.

“Peter has an immense role to play for us going forward, but if we are going to reintroduce him we need to do it at the right time. I thought that Elton was much better last week than in his first match for us. Joe Pietersen will continue with the place-kicking.

“I don’t think it will impact on Elton’s confidence as Joe has a good goalkicking record so it’s not as if starting with him can be seen as a vote of no-confidence. I am sure it is only a matter of time before Elton starts kicking three pointers for us.”

Stormers team: Joe Pietersen, Gio Aplon, Jean de Villiers (captain), Damian de Allende, Bryan Habana, Elton Jantjies, Nic Groom, Duane Vermeulen, Rynhardt Elstadt, Siya Kolisi, Andries Bekker, De Kock Steenkamp, Frans Malherbe, Deon Fourie, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Tiaan Liebenberg, Pat Cilliers, Don Armand, Nizaam Carr, Dewaldt Duvenage, Peter Grant, Gerhard van den Heever.

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