Joe Pietersen’s refreshing willingness to counter attack will not be diminished by Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe’s decision to axe him for the Vodacom Super 14 clash with the Chiefs.
Pietersen has started the last three games at fullback after Werner Greeff was ruled out for the rest of the season through injury. He was poor against the Cheetahs, very good against the Force and inconsistent against the Blues, but crucially exhibited the uncoachable flair and willingness to attack space and not the man that is so rare in South African backs.
His displays were hardly flawless, but there was a spark at the back that the Stormers have lacked for two seasons. Instead of that spark being cultured, it has been stamped out. The increasingly manic Van der Merwe has opted for the out of form Tonderai Chavhanga in jersey 15 for the Chiefs clash.
Despite the axing, Pietersen tells keo.co.za from Tauranga that he remains positive and has relished the opportunity to perform in the southern hemisphere spectacular.
“I’m going to continue to back myself. I’ve got an attitude right now where I want to pull something off at 150%, and if I stuff it up at 150% then so be it. Obviously I’m not going to be stupid about it, but rather that then not ever trying anything.
“I want to play attacking rugby, play a bit of hide and seek with defences. You can’t just defend or attack exclusively, and obviously I must stick to a game plan, but I enjoy taking risks. In future games I am gonna continue to try a few things,” Pietersen said, before admitting that the competition was as challenging as he expected.
“It’s definitely as tough as I thought it would be. I’ve only played a couple of games, but it’s been very physical and I’m really happy to be here.”
Pietersen cannot be expected to comment on Van der Merwe’s decision to axe him, but does give his own insights into his three performances in the Vodacom Super 14:
vs Cheetahs, Cape Town
“It was my first game at this level and I’ll admit I was a bit rattled. I did a couple of stupid things, and two kicks off the side of my boot came at inopportune times. I’m sure most people remember when I ran into Os du Randt, but despite getting hammered I still managed to keep the ball, which most people forget.
“What did Os say to me after that tackle? ‘Welcome boytjie!’”
vs Force, Perth
“They weren’t so organised on defence, and didn’t close up as well as the Cheetahs. I saw quite a few gaps and was lucky enough to make a few pleasing runs. They weren’t one of the strongest teams in the competition, but they were no easy beats, and I was pleased with my display. It was a big improvement on the Cheetahs game.”
vs Blues, Auckland
“I wouldn’t say this was a good game. I keep replaying one moment in particular, when I knocked on a simple ball in my 22. Aw it was terrible hey? I just lifted my head too early and made an elementary error. Apart from that I launched one stupid kick, an up and under, when I should have launched a long kick.
“Otherwise I made quite a few tackles and had a few runs. I’m not disappointed in how I played, but I’m not totally happy.”
Pietersen is not expected to be included in the Stormers match 22 to face the Chiefs. The team will be announced later today.
By Chris Hewitt.