Peter Grant says a successful flyhalf depends on front-foot ball and is backing his pack to lay the necessary platform this Saturday.
Grant has often been described as a player in the Henry Honiball mold due to his bruising defence, linebreaking ability from the flyhalf position and accurate distribution. Grant bares comparison to the former Bok pivot because he prefers to run or pass rather than kick.
His opposite number in Saturday’s final is a completely different player, boasting exemplary tactical kicking skills that have been well utilised by both the Bulls and Springboks. Where Grant edges Morne Steyn, however, is with ball-in-hand.
While both players differ, both have been at the forefront of the respective teams’ success in 2010. The big question as the final in Soweto looms is, which player will produce the touch of magic to capture the trophy: the man with the golden boot or the exciting runner with the deceptively good pass?
Grant played down such comparisons, admitting to keo.co.za that a flyhalf cannot function behind a losing pack.
‘A lot’s been said about the kicking game, and I agree that Morne Steyn and Fourie du Preez are brilliant kickers, but on Saturday, a lot will depend on the performance of the forwards,’ he said.
‘Every flyhalf wants to play behind a winning pack, and I’ve been getting some nice ball to work with from my forwards. Whoever gets that momentum will come out on top.
‘I certainly don’t think it’s going to be a case of me versus Morne. It’s not a man-on-man thing.’
Coach Allister Coetzee told this site on Monday the kicking game would be crucial, and the pressure’s on Grant to deliver a ground-gaining performance. Although he doesn’t punt the ball prodigious distances, he has been accurate this season, and if Dewaldt Duvenage and Joe Pietersen can supply him with the necessary support, the Stormers may be able to withstand the Bulls’ aerial attack.
Like Coetzee, Grant also believes that forward momentum will influence the kicking accuracy of both teams. The Stormers beat the Waratahs at the collisions last week, which prevented the visitors from executing their kicks efficiently.
Although they have moved from Loftus Versfeld to Orlando Stadium for the play-offs, the Bulls still have the advantage of altitude. It’s usually the first topic discussed prior to a game on the Highveld, as the rarefied air means the ball travels further. This requires adjustments by the kickers at No 9 and 10, and on defence, the back-three have to stand further back.
The Stormers have opted to fly to Johannesburg on Friday after they’ve completed their captain’s run in Cape Town. They will bus to Orlando Stadium in the afternoon to get a feel for the venue, but there will be no training opportunities prior to match day.
Grant, the Stormers vice-captain, said this shouldn’t impact negatively on their performance.
‘Altitude is a factor, but it can be used to our benefit as well,’ he said. ‘As for going up there late – it’s not the first time we’ve held our captain’s practice at a different venue to the actual stadium. At this level we should be able to handle it.’
By Jon Cardinelli