Super Rugby

'Lots to improve on' as Stormers brace for Pumas

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Rito Hlungwani (Gallo)
Rito Hlungwani (Gallo)
  • Stormers forwards coach Rito Hlungwani says it's important for the players to show vast improvement when they tackle the Pumas.
  • Flank Ernst van Rhyn adds that the win over the Lions "wasn't pretty" and "there are lots we can improve on".
  • Wing Sergeal Petersen is the only injury casualty from the Lions game.

The Stormers are seeking vast improvement when they tackle the Pumas in a Super Rugby Unlocked encounter in Nelspruit on Friday.

The Capetonians opened their account with a 23-17 win over the Lions at Newlands at the weekend but it was a stuttering performance for large parts.

Head coach John Dobson and captain Siya Kolisi said afterwards it felt more like a loss in the changeroom.

While addressing reporters in a virtual briefing on Monday, forwards coach Rito Hlungwani said the aim was to up their game significantly against the Pumas this weekend.

"It (the win over the Lions) was our second game in six months. It was a little bit rusty. But it's a good opportunity for us to go out on Friday night and improve a few things," he said.

Regarding the areas they'll be targeting, Hlungwani added: "The lineout is definitely one of the areas where we could have done better, we set very high standards for ourselves. It's definitely something we would really like to improve on. We might not be hitting top-notch by Friday but we just want to see improvement, it's a long tournament."

The forwards guru added that the Pumas, who upset Griquas 27-21 in Kimberley last Saturday, would not be underestimated but said the most important aspect this week was to improve on their efforts against the Lions.

"We are playing a very good side. It's very early in the competition, we have done a bit of analysis, but the main focus for us this week is getting the things that we didn't [do] well right... the mauling, those sorts of things.

"So, we've put a lot of focus on ourselves, but at the same time we are slightly aware of what they're going to impose on us. They're a very good contesting team. They've got really good players; they also stop the maul really well and play with a lot of energy. But the main thing for us is to make sure that we get the things that we want to get right going..."

One injury casualty from Lions clash

The Stormers lost winger Sergeal Petersen to a quad injury against the Lions and Hlungwani confirmed that he would be sidelined this weekend.

"From Saturday, we've got one casualty and that is Sergeal. The rest of the guys have got soft tissue injuries and niggles we're not too concerned about. Sergeal is the one player that is totally out for this weekend," the coach noted.

He added that winger Seabelo Senatla, who has been sidelined with a hamstring niggle, would not be available to face the Pumas.

"Seabelo is close, but he won't be ready for this weekend. He's running and getting ready..."

Hlungwani could not give an update on the recovery progress of Springbok flank Pieter-Steph du Toit, who is still making his way back from a leg injury suffered earlier in the year.

Shifting focus back to the Pumas game, flank Ernst van Rhyn echoed the sentiments of the forwards coach.

"This past weekend wasn't pretty and there are lots we can improve on. We're not underestimating the Pumas. They had a really good win this past weekend against the Griquas... for us as a pack, we want to keep to our standards, no matter who the opposition is. So, looking forward to going to Nelspruit and putting in a good performance."

In their recent win over the Lions during Super Fan Saturday in Pretoria, the Stormers struggled with the high altitude during the second stanza, but Van Rhyn believes they'll be better equipped for this weekend's match in Nelspruit.

"Three weeks ago at Loftus was the first time in a long while that we played a proper match. So I think we have to take that into consideration - and also the fact that the Lions also had a full team on the bench.

"But we're definitely fitter and better conditioned. We're full of confidence that we'll be able to play and compete for the full 80 minutes against the Pumas."

Friday's clash at Mbombela Stadium is scheduled for 19:00.

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