The man who dictated things in the flyhalf channel for the Stormers over the weekend against the Force was Schalk Burger. He did not wear the No 10 jersey.
It would be interesting to see the stats how many times Burger handled the ball on attack at first receiver compared to the real flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis. Burger even popped up at flyhalf from a set move, which didn’t come off because Kobus van Wyk dropped the ball while admiring the gap opening up in front of him.
Burger passed the ball 14 times in 71 minutes against the Force, and produced a few lovely offloads as well. Catrakilis passed the ball 11 times in 60 minutes. It’s obviously a plan for Burger to take the ball flat and release a willing runner next to him. And the Stormers more often than not get over the advantage line because of this strategy.
They mixed it up nicely for the set move that Van Wyk dropped, but the plan of Burger taking it to the line and offloading does get a tad predictable.
Catrakilis only seems to be at flyhalf when he needs to relieve the pressure or execute the team’s exit strategy. It’s almost like in American Football where the kicker only comes on to the do the kicking duties and then leaves the field again.
Catrakilis is supposed to call the shots at flyhalf, whether to kick, take it to the line or pass. But he doesn’t put his stamp on the game, not even with his boot. He made 15 kicks out of hand against the Force, but how many of those were really effective or put the Stormers on the front foot?
The reason why Burger is taking the ball flat at flyhalf is because that’s not Catrakilis’s game. And against teams where you have to take the initiative, Catrakilis just doesn’t pose any threat to opposition defences. He is a damn fine goal-kicker, probably the best in the competition, but he is literally a passenger when the Stormers are on attack, because one of their primary ball carriers is being used in the flyhalf channel to spark the outside backs and the forwards running off his shoulder.
The Stormers should have made mincemeat of this terrible Force team on Saturday. They blew the few chances they had because of poor ball security at the breakdown and a few handling errors.
But most of all they left a bonus-point victory out there because of Catrakilis’s inability to dictate the game with either his boot or with his hand.
The fact is, the Stormers lack that conviction in their running and kicking game at times because of indecision. They are a lot more decisive when they defend, but unfortunately they are not going to win Super Rugby by just trying to tackle the stuffing out of the opposition. It might have worked against the naive Waratahs, who didn’t vary their game at all. But it’s not going to work against a team who embrace an all encompassing brand of rugby, which includes a robust defence, a good kicking game and a hard-running ball-in-hand game.
This weekend the Stormers are going to come up against a flyhalf who can dictate proceedings with his boot and a running game. Handré Pollard is the one that got away, but on the bench the Stormers have Kurt Coleman who showed the Bok flyhalf up when the Stormers and Bulls met at Newlands last season.
Catrakilis isn’t doing the business on attack. It’s time for a change. It’s time to let the passenger off the bus.
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Original source: Stormers must offload Catrakilis