Stormers to target Michalak

2008-02-21 00:00

Stormers captain Jean de Villiers believes that new Sharks flyhalf, Frenchman Frederic Michalak, blows hot and cold and is prone to error.

The Stormers captain and centre, speaking ahead of tomorrow evening’s Super 14 clash in Durban, says that he has played against Michalak on a number of occasions and the Stormers will target the slightly-built Frenchman tomorrow.

"He has very good hands and feet," De Villiers told News 24, "but he can also make mistakes. We must put him under pressure."

De Villiers also sang the praises of former Sharks centre Gcobani Bobo, who moved to Cape Town from Durban at the end of last year.

Bobo was criticised after Saturday’s defeat to the Bulls at Newlands for hanging on to the ball too long when the Stormers were in scoring positions.

But De Villiers disagrees and said he was delighted Bobo was now with the Stormers and alongside him in midfield.

"Gcobani did very well on Saturday. It was a real loss to the Sharks when he decided to come to Cape Town to play rugby here, but his presence is a real bonus for us."

The pair will oppose the highly-regarded Sharks pairing of Brad Barritt and Waylon Murray and the midfield contest promises to be particularly physical.

De Villiers said he was concerned about the heat and humidity of Durban, adding that they will have to overcome the conditions to win.

"The humidity will definitely be a factor, but there are ways and means to combat the conditions," he added.

Sharks captain Johann Muller said that the new laws, which encourage running rugby, and the Durban humidity provided a major test of the players’ fitness.

"For the tight forwards, it was tough [against Western Force] and everybody was really tired," he told the Sharks website.

"February is always a tough month to play rugby: it’s wet and really humid.

"I know people got a bit frustrated, and we probably kicked a little bit too much, but I just think we kicked badly," he said. "The conditions in Durban are a lot tougher than people think. We chatted to the Force guys afterwards and they said that after 20 minutes they were stuffed, and you could see it. Their forwards really struggled."

Muller said the Sharks hoped to play more of an open game against the Stormers.

"We have to get the time right about when to run and when to kick," he said, adding that the game against the Stormers will be hard and physical.

"They were unlucky to lose to the Bulls.

"They have a very good scrum and, with guys like Schalk Burger, it’s going to be a really tough day.

"But we’re excited. There is a great rivalry with the Stormers and the boys are keen for Saturday."

The match kicks off at 5 pm tomorrow and supporters are urged to arrive early — not only to watch the Wildebeest in action in the curtain-raiser, but also to avoid another chaotic traffic day in Durban. Many of the roads close to King’s Park will be closed because of the A1 Grand Prix this weekend.

Sharks coach Dick Muir said last night there were no late problems with his team — "no tricks, we will take the field as announced".

Wildebeest coach Charles Louw has named a host of Sharks players — among them Henno Mentz, Steven Sykes and Kees Lensing — in his side to face the Pumas in the 2.30 pm curtain-raiser tomorrow.

Wildebeest XV: Danie Dames, Frank Wagenstroom, Dumisani Matyeshana, Andries Strauss, Henno Mentz, Scott Spedding, Charl McLeod, Jean Deysel, Nikolai Blignaut, Justin Downey, Steven Sykes, Alistair Hargreaves (capt), Robbie Harris, Jody Jenneker, Kees Lensing Replacements: Subusiso Dube, Pierre Bouwer, Schalk van Jaarsveld, Jacques Potgieter, Neil de Bruin, Lwazi Mvovo, Riaan Swanepoel.

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