‘There is life after Jaque’

2012-01-26 00:00

Cape Town – As long as Jean de Villiers, the other link in the old firm, stays fit the Stormers can yet prosper without Jaque Fourie in their midfield for the first time in some three years. This is the view of former Springbok, Canada and Western Province centre Christian Stewart.

The Newlands-based franchise, in naming what seems a full-strength set of outside backs for the home pre-season meeting with Currie Cup champions the Lions tomorrow night, predictably paired De Villiers with promising fellow Springbok Juan de Jongh at centre.

Fourie, who added to a formidable triangle of internationals in the Super Rugby conference winners’ midfield last season, opted recently not to return for another campaign with the Stormers and instead to further his lucratively paid career more meaningfully in Japan.

“The Stormers will clearly miss Fourie because I believe they made better use of his attributes than South Africa did, certainly at the last World Cup,” Stewart said yesterday.

“The Bok game plan, and also their policy at flyhalf, meant Jaque’s skills were seldom employed to the maximum.

“He should be such a key element to any team’s intentions. He’s the sort of player of whom any direct opponent is usually saying ‘phew, this guy’s both bigger than me and more multitalented than me’.”

Yet for all the talk of how Fourie used almost to instinctively call the Stormers’ defensive requirements during play, Stewart believes 30-year-old De Villiers is just as capable of running that department, especially being generally a little closer to the action at number 12.

“Jean has the sort of broad qualities that could easily be taken for granted. I don’t see any special signs yet of age affecting his game and I would still place him in my World XV — he’s that good.”

As for De Jongh, whose own opportunities over the past two years have occasionally been limited at international and Super Rugby level by the more senior start-out partnership of De Villiers and Fourie, Stewart said: “His time has really now come, hasn’t it?

“I am just inclined to think he is also slightly more suited to number 12, but it really doesn’t matter because we’ve seen what he can do [in both midfield slots].”

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