Siya Kolisi, who was controversially left on the bench for that game after then coach Heyneke Meyer went with his Stormers teammate and lock Pieter-Steph du Toit at blindside flank, says he has tried to forget about that sad day in Brighton.
Schalk Burger was also on the field that day, while Damian de Allende and Frans Malherbe watched on in disbelief from the stands as the Japanese recorded one of the biggest shocks in the history of the game.
So these five players, who will be in the Stormers’ 23-man squad for tonight’s game against the Sunwolves, know exactly what can happen when you underestimate a Japanese team. Especially one that will feature a host of changes from last week’s match against the Kings.
The Sunwolves are without their dangerous flyhalf Tusi Pisi, who is nursing a shoulder injury. Yu Tamura, who was also on the field in Brighton against the Boks after coming on as a substitute, is going to wear the No 10 jersey.
The Stormers have also been hit by a bit of a crisis this week, as lock Eben Etzebeth and flyhalf Kurt Coleman have all been struck down by injuries ahead of the match. So, this game has got all the ingredients for a shock result. That’s why the Stormers are taking nothing for granted.
“The guys have seen what they can do, we have been watching them. And I’ve tried to forget what happened in Brighton!” Kolisi said this week. “We have been preparing for them since last week, in our off week. That is how serious we are taking this game. All the guys are excited about it, Nizaam (Carr) and I always send each other messages before we start the next day, talking about the week.
“It’s going to be a tough challenge, and we can never underestimate them. We will have to bring our A-game (at) Newlands.”
His coach Robbie Fleck, who had to shuffle his line-up ahead of the game, echoed those sentiments. He has also been involved in matches that have produced massive upsets before, and promised Stormers’ fans that the team won’t be taking the Sunwolves, who are yet to win a match in their maiden Super Rugby season, lightly.
“The Sunwolves certainly present different challenges. I think they are a good attacking side, their basics are really good and they play at a high tempo, which the Jaguares brought in against us in the second half,” Fleck said.
“So I think we have been tested in that area. There won’t be any complacency from our side. They are desperate for a win, and they will be coming to South Africa for one of those wins.”
The Stormers have made an impressive start to the season, with only one loss from their first five matches. They have shown lots of character this year, but they will have to dig a lot deeper without a few of their stars tonight.
Etzebeth would be a massive blow for any team. He sets the tone for the Stormers in the physical department, while his lineout play, especially on the opposition’s ball, has been simply superb.
Young flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis will also be under pressure in his first ever Super Rugby start. The Sunwolves are likely to attack his channel tonight, while he will have to show that he can spark the Stormers backline.
It’s certainly going to help that Du Plessis is going to play in front of the Newlands faithful, who will be hoping that he can emulate his father Carel’s feats at the grand old stadium.
“For us, it’s to keep building what we started. We have gone four out of five, and we want to go five out of six. It’s really important for this next phase of the competition, these four weeks, that we get off to a good start after the bye,” Fleck said. “We are playing with confidence at the moment and the team is in a good space. We’re quite excited to get out there in front of the home fans.”
TEAMS FOR NEWLANDS
Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Oli Kebble. Bench: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 19 Rynhardt Elstadt, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Huw Jones, 23 Damian de Allende.
Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Viliami Lolohea, 13 Mifiposeti Paea, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Akihito Yamada, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Yuki Yatomi, 8 Tomas Leonardi, 7 Ed Quirk, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Timothy Bond, 4 Shinya Makabe, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Shota Horie (captain), 1 Masataka Mikami. Bench: 16 Takeshi Kizu, 17 Ziun Gu, 18 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 19 Yoshiya Hosoda, 20 Andrew Durutalo, 21 Atsushi Hiwasa, 22 Harumichi Tatekawa, 23 Yasutaka Sasakura - Cape Times
Original source: Stormers not taking Sunwolves for granted