The Stormers are expecting a massive onslaught from an emotional Brumbies unit and will respond in kind.
Shawn Mackay’s passing has affected the Canberra franchise to a disruptive degree. On returning from their South African tour on Monday, the Brumbies received the news of Mackay’s death. As a result, the players only resumed light training on Wednesday and go into this weekend’s clash with minimal preparation.
While the time on the training park has been minimal, the Brumbies should not want for energy. The Stormers could be feeling the brunt of the Brumbies’ most fiery performance to date, and it’s because of this emotional energy that the visitors will not underestimate them.
The Brumbies may be returning from a demanding tour, a tour where they lost two from three, but they will be determined to do Mackay proud.
‘It’s been a helluva emotional week for the Brumbies and although they will be affected that’s no reason for us to relax,’ Stormers assistant coach Allister Coetzee told keo.co.za. ‘We’ve got a job to do this weekend. We need to rediscover that form we showed when we beat the Lions.’
The Stormers have battled since that big win, losing to the Crusaders and Waratahs on successive Saturdays. They’ve lacked the attitude and the precision to be effective, but against a charged Brumbies brood, they can’t afford to falter.
‘It’s been a tough two weeks but the players are determined to turn it around,’ said Coetzee. ‘They’re fed up with losing by six or seven points every week and they’re focused on being clinical.
‘Perhaps they have tried too hard at times, but we all know that’s no excuse.’
The Stormers occupy 11th place on the Super 14 log and are unlikely to make the play-offs. Coetzee maintains they’re not done yet, not from a semi-final perspective and not from a tour point of view. The Cape franchise travel back to New Zealand next week to battle the Hurricanes and Highlanders.
‘There are two more games to play, so a win this weekend will set the tone for those fixtures,’ said Coetzee. ‘There is still a chance that we can make the semi-finals, and we’ll never throw in the towel.
‘It’s a matter of taking the right options when we’re in opposition territory. We saw what the Brumbies were like against the Cheetahs and have identified some vulnerabilities in their defence.
‘We’re good enough to create the opportunities, and on Saturday, we’ll have to be good enough to make those chances count.’
By Jon Cardinelli