Stormers pack can’t stand back

The forward battle between the Sharks and Stormers will determine who wins the King’s Park war, according to Joe van Niekerk.

The Springbok loose forward, who was voted man-of-the-match in the Stormers’ 28-17 win over the Crusaders last weekend, says his pack will have to produce a similar performance if they hope to upset the Durbanites.

“The Sharks have played some great rugby this year,” Van Niekerk told keo.co.za. “I really rate their forwards and we’re going to have to play as well as we did against the Crusaders to keep them in check. The Sharks are always tough to beat in their own backyard and it’s going to be tough.”

‘Big Joe’ said the Stormers’ mental preparations could also determine the result.

“By this stage of the season, the guys know the game plan … they know what they have to do to win,” he said. “For me it will come down to the mental aspect of the game. Each individual has to be right ‘upstairs’ before he takes the field. We all have to believe we can win it.”

Van Niekerk missed the majority of the Super 14 season after undergoing wrist surgery at the end of last year, but said he was feeling better every week.

“I’m playing with virtually no pain now,” he said. “Obviously my match fitness is not quite where I want it to be, but the more I play, the fitter I’ll get.”

By Simon Borchardt