Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stormers focus on set piece against Crusaders TONY SMITH 12/04/2012

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has warned his rejigged team will have to "up the ante" at the set piece and be better at the breakdown to beat the Crusaders in Christchurch and preserve their unbeaten start to the Super rugby season.
Coetzee confirmed three changes to the starting lineup that hammered the Highlanders 21-6 with Springboks test wing Gio Aplon still struggling to take his place in the match-day squad.
Aplon suffered a lower back strain against the Highlanders and has been replaced on the right wing by Gerhard van den Heever, who celebrates his 23rd birthday tomorrow.
Coetzee said Aplon will have to prove his fitness at tomorrow's captain's run or his place on the substitutes' bench on Saturday would to JP du Plessis.
Stalwart prop Brok Harris returns as starting tighthead after an impact role against the Highlanders, swapping berths with Frans Malherbe. Nizaam Carr, 21, replaces Nick Koster as the reserve backrower after Koster sustained a head knock in Dunedin.
Coetzee said from the Stormers' Queenstown training base he had put out his "best available selections" for the clash with the Crusaders, who return home after victory over the Lions in Johannesburg and a defeat to the Bulls in Pretoria.
"We know it is going to be a massive challenge. They are seven-times Super rugby champions and they have a quality side with a huge amount of experience," he said.
Coetzee conceded the Crusaders were "much better than us" tactically and physically "when they beat us twice last year in the round-robin game and the semifinals.
Coetzee stopped short of admitting this was the Stormers' most exacting assignment in the current campaign. "They are all tough. But this is a quality Crusaders side ....
"We've got to make sure we are accurate at our set piece because the Crusaders will look to put a lot of pressure on there. They've got a quality tight five and are technically sound in all departments."
The Stormers have physically dominated their opponents this year but Coetzee is demanding an even bigger effort at the breakdown and better ball security, saying they could not afford to turn over possession.
He refused to enter into the controversy raging over the Bulls' allegations of eye gouging levelled at the Crusaders last week but subsequently ignored by the citings commissioner. The Bulls have declined to apologise for their spurious claims and Coetzee gave the issue a swift sidestep last night.
"I wouldn't like to get involved in that. The Crusaders are true professionals, I've just mentioned they are seven-time Super rugby champions.
"They have a great coaching staff and great leadership," he said.
Coetzee also dismissed any notion the Crusaders would be jaded after their long flight from Johannesburg. His Stormers side crossed the Indian Ocean the previous week but still managed to summon sufficient energy to put the Highlanders to the sword.
He said travel was "still a challenge" but "we do it so often we are definitely getting used to it". He said Super rugby medical and conditioning staff were "planning better" and players were getting better at "looking after their own niggles", which helped mitigate the travel factor.
Blackadder will name his Crusaders team today after assessing how his players have backed up from the Bulls game and travel. Wellington referee Chris Pollock, who controlled the Stormers' clash with the Highlanders, will officiate at Addington on Saturday.
Stormers: Joe Pietersen, Gerhard van den Heever, Juan de Jongh, Jean De Villiers (c), Bryan Habana, Peter Grant, Dewaldt Duvenage, Duane Vermeulen, Rynhardt Elstadt, Siya Kolisi, Andries Bekker, Eben Etzebeth, Brok Harris, Tiaan Liebenberg, Steven Kitshoff. Reserves: Deon Fourie, Frans Malherbe, De Kock Steenkamp, Nizaam Carr, Louis Schreuder, Burton Francis, Gio Aplon/J P du Plessis.

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