‘Blues can’t hurt us’

The Stormers believe that a strong defensive display will blunt the Blues.

Eighthman Joe van Niekerk told keo.co.za that squad sessions this week focused on the positive, emphasising the only way the Stormers will lose this game is defensively.

“We know it is in our own hands,” Van Niekerk said. “In defensive sessions this week we have emphasised how important that aspect will be. Gary Gold has reiterated that they have nothing on us, they can’t hurt us, if we defend as we know we can.”

Van Niekerk’s sentiments were echoed by coach Kobus van der Merwe in a message to the Cape media.

“The preparations have gone well this week. We have worked hard on our forward play and had a very good scrumming session under the guidance of Jerome Paarwater earlier in the week,” Vab der Merwe said. “We have also done a lot of work on the lineouts as well as on the defensive system and one-on-one tackling as we let in a few soft tries against the Force game. The work done this week has paid off and we are confident that we will be better, particularly on defence. We are confident about the weekend.

“It is going to be a tough game, make no mistake. The Bulls felt the Blues backlash last week and a lot has been made of the way they played that game. However, people have overlooked the fact that the Blues are a quality side. They have a formidable pack of forwards, play well from broken play and seem to have sorted out their flyhalf problems. They have a very dangerous backline and we expect they will take it wide to their wingers. They have been criticized here for being inconsistent but we will be taking nothing for granted. This will be a completely different challenge to the Force game”

With the Blues possessing what Van Niekerk decribes as “the best steppers in the game”, the Blues are not being underestimated by the Stormers. Equally, they are eager to play with expectation and not hope.

Meanwhile Van der Merwe expects his unchanged backline and tweaked pack to build on the win against the Force.

“It was always our intention to keep changes to a minimum in order to maintain consistency and continuity. We have had to make a minor adjustment through injury but are comfortable that we have a strong side to face the Blues. There were encouraging signs against the Force and we perhaps should have won that game more comprehensively”.

By Chris Hewitt