‘Stormers need a world-class flyhalf’


The Stormers, like the rest of South Africa, will be watching the Super Rugby semi-finals from the comfort of their lounges on Saturday morning after going down to the Brumbies in the playoff last Saturday.

The Stormers have gone close to winning the title over the last five years under outgoing coach Allister Coetzee, the team making the final in 2010 and two semi-finals in 2011 and 2012.

This season, the Stormers surprised everybody when they won the South African Conference ahead of the Bulls and the Sharks. But they fell at the first playoff hurdle, as the Brumbies cruised past them with a magnificent performance.

But Paulse says a world-class flyhalf could be the saviour of Newlands, a guy who can unlock the possibilities of the talented Stormers backline as well as dominate with the boot.

“If you look at the teams with the most Super Rugby titles, there was a great No 9 and a No 10. Guys who can dictate a match and stamp their authority on proceedings.

“You need a guy like a Dan Carter, a Stephen Larkham when he was at his best. You need to get a guy like that as soon as possible, doesn’t matter how much you have to pay him.”

Former Cheetahs flyhalf Johan Goosen appears to be on director of rugby Gert Smal’s radar following a disappointing stint at Racing Metro.

Goosen showed a lot of promise in his first few Super Rugby seasons, as he has the ability to take the ball flat and unleash his backs, while he also has a massive right boot. Injuries, though, and adapting to life in France, have set him back a bit over the last year or so.

“Goosen showed a lot of potential in the early stages of his career and he has what it takes,” Paulse said.

“But I think the Stormers need to get a proper international, who has played a lot of rugby at the highest level. It’s going to be to difficult, but they need such a No 10.”

Paulse, who will enjoy the Super Rugby semi-finals in the SuperSport studios as pundit, blamed an “out-dated” approach for the South African teams’ struggle in in 2015.

While the Stormers were the best South African team, they finished a whopping 21 points behind the table-topping Hurricanes in the standings.

The former Springbok wing says the days of relying on power, good kicking and the rolling maul to beat teams are gone, and that South African teams need to add a dash of panache to their play.

“We didn’t play the type of rugby that Hurricanes and the Highlanders played to be successful,” he said. “New Zealand put a lot of effort in playing a total game of rugby. Even the Blues, who struggled this season, scored some lovely tries.

“Rugby is going in that direction, and to keep it alive in South Africa we have to change the mindset of the coaches. We have the players, but unfortunately, because most of the coaches are under pressure to win, they go back to a conservative approach.

“Clearly, this sort of game is not working for us anymore. If teams counter our physical approach, then they can beat us easily these days.

“It’s not going to be something that’s going to change overnight. If you look at New Zealand’s rugby structures, all their teams play the same type of rugby. But in South Africa, the Bulls play a different game, the Cheetahs play a different game and the Sharks ...”

Paulse also chipped in on the size debate, as many blamed the Stormers’ lack of bulk at the back for their capitulation against the Brumbies.

A player like Highlanders wing Waisake Naholo has certainly taken Super Rugby by storm this year, because of his physical attributes and speed. But so has a smaller player like Hurricanes man Nehe Milner-Skudder, who danced his way past many defenders with his sweet stepping.

The debate will rage on, but it was clear on which side of the fence the former Bok wing is sitting.

“I have been in that same situation, and I think there is still place for smaller players in rugby. Guys like Cheslin Kolbe and Aaron Smith bring other skills to the table,” Paulse said.

“We have to be realistic, there are a lot of big guys coming through at the moment, wings and centres who are over 100kg. And it’s great, because the guys are all athletes.

“But there is still a place for the small guys, because they are generally more skilful and they bring some excitement to the game. I don’t think smaller players need to be scared to take their place on a rugby field.”

Cape Argus

Original source: ‘Stormers need a world-class flyhalf’