Stormers press conference LIVE

Keo.co.za took you inside the Newlands boardroom and brought you the Stormers press conference as it happened.

Coach Kobus van der Merwe confirmed his side to play the Cats at Ellis Park on Saturday.

15 Werner Greeff
14 Rayno Benjamin
13 De Wet Barry (c)
12 Jean de Villiers
11 Jongi Nokwe
10 Peter Grant
9 Bolla Conradie
8 Adri Badenhorst
7 Schalk Burger
6 Luke Watson
5 Andries Bekker
4 Ross Skeate
3 Eddie Andrews
2 Hanyani Shimange
1 JD Moller

Subs

16 Schalk Brits
17 Attie Winter
18 Henk Eksteen
19 Dawid Hendricks
20 Neil de Kock
21 Naas Olivier
22 Justin Peach

Kobus on his bench selection

We have enough utility in Naas and Justin Peach. Jean can shift to the wing, Peter Grant can shift to centre, I think we’re covered. I think it’s important that we have two specialist halfbacks on the bench.

Kobus on state of the squad

We’re very happy with the preparation up until now, in terms of what we wanted pre-season. We didn’t want drawn out training camps, or trips overseas. I think our players are well prepared for the competition, mentally and physically. A lot of players are coming back from injury at the right stage. With regard to selection, we have a fair system in place where the guys who started towards the end of the Currie Cup and against the Spears have been given the benefit of the doubt. They’ve got to be forced out the saddle.

Kobus on rotational policy

We will look at rotating the players. It’s important to keep players fresh through 16 weeks. We will monitor it intensively.

De Wet Barry on physical preparations

A lot of work has gone in the gym, and I’m sure the guys are physically prepared to go.

De Wet on his condition

I’m well rested. I had the opportunity to gym my upper body a bit harder. I had a bit of contact yesterday and have some more tomorrow. It’ll be a little bit more sore than usual, but that’s how it is, and I’m ready to go.

De Wet on the lack of expectation around the Stormers

Sometimes it’s better to be the underdog, cos then you can surprise people. We ourselves are setting high expectations. We would like to do well again. We want to win every game.

Bolla Conradie on whether he’s under pressure

I’m up against Ricky, but I don’t think I have a point to prove. All I’m interested in is performing to the best of my ability. I’m focused on the Stormers and not the Boks.

De Wet on derbies

We put too much empahasis on local derbies. It’s not that these aren’t important, but we need to shift our focus to our games with overseas opposition. That’s where we have to perform

Kobus on the midfield battle

It’s going to be very interesting. They’ve got great centres, but so do we. Jean and De Wet have great strengths we can utilise to the benefit of the team. We can play them equally well, we’ll switch them around for certain plays. I’m very pleased De Wet is on duty, I’m sure Jaque isn’t quite as pleased.

Kobus on the decision not to play more than two warm-up fixtures

It is a concern. We’ve had to do a bit of longterm planning, and consider the whole competition. In hindsight maybe it’s working, you’ve got Conrad Jantjes and Ashwin Willemse who’ve had to pull out because of injuries in preseason games. I spoke to Rassie and he has a few problems, the Bulls are in a situation. What I’ve said to the players is it’s nothing much more than a Currie Cup game, we know the opposition and they know us. I think after Saturday we’ll see if it was the right decision

JD Moller on the tight five

We know each other very well. A lot of us have come through together and we’ve started playing nicely now. I’m confident we can stand up to the Cats.

Kobus on the debutant wingers, Jongi Nokwe and Rayno Benjamin

A guy like Werner plays a very important role in settling them. They’re eager to do well, and both have the ability. They must focus on that and not the outcome of the game, and this will be a good test for them. We know they’re very talented, and they must focus on what they can control in a match. They fit in very well to the way we play, they both have lightning pace and guys like Werner and De Wet give a lot of confidence to them. The game against the Spears showed that when they’re given pace, they can be lethal.

Kobus on Wylie Human

I haven’t seen his stats, but he’s a very good player. I don’t think Jongi will be thinking of the Currie Cup [when he ran around Human to score]. They’ve got pace out wide, Jaque is extremely quick as well. It’s a solid backline, but we’re backing Jongi.

Kobus on weather forecast

They’ve predicted a bit of rain, hopefully it stays away. We’ll take out the buckets today to get the balls wet.

Kobus on Peter Grant
I’ve always said I think he’s a quality player, and sometimes it is how you handle the setbacks that separates you from the pack. Pete is a quality player, he has BMT, and we have given him a vote of confidence. I’ve spoken to him during the week and told him to forget about the criticism. He had a great game last time he was at Ellis Park, against the Lions, so he doesn’t have to go into this game worried.

Kobus on Naas Olivier

Naas has made a big step up. He’s shown some fantastic touches of class in our warm up matches. We’re very pleased having him in the squad. He kicks out of hand beautifully, and is a good goalkicker. We’re very pleased with both our 10s, and it’s important for the team’s benefit that they challenge each other.

Kobus on his state of mind

I haven’t been sleeping much to be honest. The competition is here now, and I’ll be talking nonsense if I said you don’t get nervous. All the players and management just want the competition to start now, and we’ll see where we are after Saturday.

Kobus on the importance of winning

It’s important that we start well, to get the confidence for the home leg. We musn’t lose sight of the fact that it is an away game. It’s great to say the local derbies will have a huge impact, but if you win the four derbies and lose the rest you probably will be relegated. The local derbies will be intense because of the relegation factor, but how we play the overseas sides is more important

Kobus on goalkickers

We’ll start with Pete, and Werner will take the longer kicks. I know Pete fluffed a bit against the Spears, but he has big BMT.

Kobus on Earl Rose

He can expect a bit more than a few up and unders, but we are not focusing on one individual. Earl will be a bit nervous, but he will feel the welcome.

De Wet on whether he’ll get stuck in to Rose

We’ll see how it goes hey!

De Wet on Cats

I think the Cheetahs benefit more from the split than the Lions, cos their players had to be based in Johannesburg for six months.

Kobus on tight five

We have enough quality to get enough ball. It’s important the backs realise that they have to utilise that ball, and keep the forwards in the game.

Kobus on last season

It was a very difficult season for the players, having to adapt to a new coaching staff and methods. It was disappointing to lose in the semi-final, but we played some decent rugby after making the Top 8. The only real disappointment was the Bulls game at Loftus, but we are building from then, and improving on what we put in place in the Currie Cup. Also, hopefully rectify what we haven’t done well.