Scarra Ntubeni was refreshingly frank when asked about his World Cup chances, and his ambitions to wear the Springbok jersey this year.
The Stormers hooker admitted that he hasn’t quite been on his game this season (although he is maybe a bit hard on himself), and that he has to improve his primary role of finding his jumpers in the lineout to make the step up to Test rugby.
He knows Bok coach Heyneke Meyer puts a premium on set-piece execution, and for him to book his ticket to England in September he must step up his lineout throwing big time.
“I haven’t hit my form that I wanted to hit, but it’s a lot better than it was in the beginning of the year,” Ntubeni said yesterday.
“The Stormers lineout must improve to get into contention, especially because a coach like Heyneke Meyer puts a lot of emphasis in execution. If our lineout isn’t functioning, it makes it harder for you to get into the team.”
But the Stormers’ lineout woes this year is not entirely his fault, with a plethora of things going wrong in this set-piece.
It’s a certainly an aspect of the game that the Cheetahs will target again this weekend when they face off with the Stormers tomorrow at Newlands, especially after they managed to disrupt the Cape side’s lineout in their shock win in Bloemfontein earlier this year.
The Stormers have certainly worked hard on their lineout over the last few weeks, and it actually has been a lot better.
The key, Ntubeni mentioned, is that they have simplified this part of their game. No longer are the players running up and down in the lineout, confusing themselves, with players forgetting to lift or jump.
“It is getting better,” Ntubeni said with his trademark broad smile.
“I think it was a bit complicated. There was a lot wrong with the execution and a few other things. This weekend will a lot simpler.
“We didn’t take what was there for us in the past. Lineouts are simple because there is always somebody open, and you just need to find that person. You don’t have to do funny spins.”
One aspect of their game that is working really well is the scrums, an area where the Stormers have targeted their opponents this season.
Ntubeni has hooked many tighheads this year in Super Rugby, because he has the confidence that the other seven members of the pack will generate enough power for him to have a go.
And it’s not going to get any easier for the Cheetahs this weekend, as Vincent Koch is back in the starting line-up at tighthead, while the equally impressive Frans Malherbe is moved to the bench.
The other change in the pack sees Nizaam Carr coming into for Schalk Burger, who is being rested. Vodacom Cup star Sikhumbuzo Notshe comes onto the bench, while Nic Groom is back in the No 9 jersey at the expense of Louis Schreuder.
“It’s an opportune time for Vince to have a start again,” coach Allister Coetzee said.
“Frans has done extremely well. The policy of making sure both these guys are really sharp when we get towards the back end of the season is working nicely.
“With the two pushing so hard, they are right up there with the best in the country. They have made massive contributions to the team.”
Carr will run out in his 50th game for the Stormers.
“We want to make sure it’s a good 50th,” Coetzee said.
“Sometimes people are superstitious because of these milestones, but you can’t hide from it. And this is a great opportunity for Nemo to play well at Newlands. He is excited to start again.” - Cape Times
Original source: Stormers keeping lineouts simple