Coetzee calls for patience


They currently find themselves in Perth, Australia, and have one more assignment against the Force before landing in the Mother City next week. And after three weeks on tour, one would think they are already dreaming about gazing up at Table Mountain from their favourite Cape watering hole.

‘Little Pretoria’, as Perth is known, is not really one of the liveliest tourist destinations (except for the Waca pitch). Having experienced Sydney and all its splendour last week, and ending their stay off with a superb victory over the defending champions, the Stormers are surely ready to come back home.

Then there are their opponents this weekend, the Force, a team who last experienced the sensation of victory in the first round of this competition. They also don’t have a lot of big names in their ranks – their best rugby player is an odd-ball winger who wears plaster to keep his hair in check because a hairband is just not rugby – and they play the type of rugby that makes a hotdog eating contest seems like riveting viewing.

However, coach Alister Coetzee is having none of this nonsense about having one foot on the plane. In fact, he says the competition only starts this weekend as they head into the final bend of rugby’s Premier provincial competition.

The Stormers have a massive match against the Bulls at Newlands next weekend, and a win against the Force would keep them right in the race for the South African conference.

The bonus-point victory against the Waratahs certainly gave the Stormers a timely boost, and a win against the Western Australian outfit will give this tour a rosy complexion after early defeats to the Highlanders and Hurricanes.

“It doesn’t matter where we are on our tour, the last thing you want to think about is going home. This week, it’s like our season is starting this weekend and this is how we view the importance of this game,” Coetzee said yesterday.

“We really had a good week and there is a good energy around the team. I’m looking for the same intensity and urgency we showed last week against the Waratahs.

“The biggest mistake we can make is to underestimate the Force here in Perth. If you look at the Brumbies, they lost against a desperate Blues side that hadn’t won a game. So there is no talk about complacency.”

The Stormers think that the Force are not going to take a ‘ball-in-hand’ approach. Instead, they expect the likes of flyhalf Sias Ebersohn to kick the ball deep on to their back three and hope the Stormers make the mistakes.

Coetzee wants patience from his wingers and fullback, and to be selective as far as their counter-attacking is concerned.

Well, the likes of Cheslin Kolbe hasn’t really tried to counter-attack this season when the ball has been kicked in their direction anyway.

Maybe a good idea is to try and make the running against the Force instead of playing ping-pong with the Aussie side. They might be desperate for a win, but it’s still the Force. And maybe the Stormers are giving them too much credit, and are maybe just a tad polite.

“We shouldn’t be looking at the Force’s results, because almost all their games were tight and they were unlucky to lose,” Coetzee said.

“They’ve got a good set piece, a strong defence and good kicking game. We have to make smart decisions at the back, from which balls to counter from and which balls to kick back.

“Our back three need to be smart and have patience. If we engage in the territory battle we have to do that, but when it’s on we have to punish the poor kicks.”

The Force’s perceived kicking strength seems to be the reason why Demetri Catrakilis is starting at flyhalf ahead of Kurt Coleman.

“Kurt has been playing really well.

“But if you look at the challenge this week, then you will understand what will be important for us. The way we exit and the way we put territorial pressure on them.” - The Star

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