Jean de Villiers believes the returning All Blacks will lend the Blues an attacking edge that’s not to be underestimated.
The Blues backline contains some of the best runners in the business with linebreakers Anthony Tuitavake and Isaia Toeava recently joined by a world-class finisher in Joe Rockocko. Forget the aberration at Loftus Versfeld, as with several more All Blacks lending their pack some bite, the Blues should have a decent platform from which to launch a typical assault.
The Blues conceded seven tries last week, but the first-choice Stormers side conceded four of their own. According to De Villiers, this places the Cape franchise under immense pressure to perform on Saturday.
“After conceding four tries, the team you’d least like to face is the Blues, ” he told keo.co.za. “They have such fantastic attacking qualities. We’ll have to be at the top of our game.”
The Stormers have made one change with Percy Montgomery replacing the injured Conrad Jantjes. One Springbok fullback slots in for another, but when it comes to experience and an imposing kicking game, Montgomery is a clear cut above.
“You don’t get more stability than 102 Tests at the back, and Percy will be a massive help to myself and guys like Peter Grant,” said De Villiers. “It’s all about making the right decisions, and when you have experience like that on your side it makes it that much easier.”
Both De Villiers and coach Rassie Erasmus have talked about the disappointment of last week where they failed to pick up the four-try bonus against the Reds. There will be no room for complacency against the Blues.
“The thing about South African teams is that we don’t really bury the weaker sides, but when we play the bigger teams we stand up for the challenge,” said De Villiers. “It’s a big game for the Blues but it’s a massive game for us at home.”
Erasmus also lamented a poor second half showing against the Reds, but believes his charges are in better shape than they were at the beginning of the 2008 season. The Stormers lost their first three matches during which time they only scored one try.
“The first three matches last year were disappointing, we were creating opportunities but we weren’t finishing,” said Erasmus. “This year we’re creating even more opportunities and unlike the beginning of last season we’ve already scored a few tries. If we get the opportunity to finish against the Blues, we must take it.
“It’s a cliche but you have to find the right balance. At times we were structured last year and at times we were a little too adventurous. It’s about making the right decisions and finding the right balance.”
By Jon Cardinelli