Jean: Cats still favourites

Despite being depleted by injury, Jean de Villiers believes the Cats are still the favourites to start their Vodacom Super 14 campaign with victory on Saturday.

Speaking to keo.co.za, the Stormers first-choice 12 emphasised the importance of home ground advantage, and anything the Cape side pick up will be a bonus.

“Look it’s definitely not going to be easy, the Super 14 is the sort of competition where next week is your toughest game, and every side is capable of knocking each other over,” De Villiers said. “I don’t know why everyone is writing off the Cats. They have a very good side with a settled backline and exceptional loose forwards. They must be the favourites playing at home.”

De Villiers is quick to play down the battle of the midfield, but essentially which of the two Bok pairings emerge on top should have a major influence on the outcome.

“We’re not focusing too much on the opposition to be honest. We know if we play to our structures and ability we can beat them, but we will to perform very well.”

Wayne Julies and Jaque Fourie proved themselves as an extremely effective combination in the Vodacom Super 12, and whilst De Villiers and centre partner De Wet Barry have shared the midfield, this is the first time Barry will start in jersey 13.

Despite being shifted, Barry has welcomed his new role.

“Playing 13 is a big challenge for me, but one I am looking forward to tremendously,” Barry told keo.co.za. “The only consideration must always be the team, and I think that this way we are utilising our strengths as a backline in the best possible way.

“It is very different to playing inside centre, and I do have a little more space and time. It’s also very different on defence, a little tougher actually, and the running lines are different. I must say though that I’m enjoying adapting, I played 13 earlier in my career and it’s a nice change.�