April 4, 2012 in Uncategorized
To have my beloved Stormers sitting on top of the log is undeniably a pretty sight for any Stormers supporter but I for one is definitely not going to jump on the bandwagon with some rugby experts labeling us as favorites for winning the competition. Some of those experts are actually smarter than others when they so strategically put the word ‘early’ in front of favorites but I’m not jumping on that wagon either, and I have good reason(s) for that:
We just boarded the plane to start our Australasian tour:
And we’ll be facing an inform Highlanders team, an always-difficult-at-home Crusaders side, a want-to-make-a-statement Reds team & a Force team that just showed that they can not be taken lightly. If you look at those fixtures, winning 3 out of the 4 games is just as likely as winning just 1 of them, so once this tour is done we will either be in top-side of the log as a team that just started the competition well or we’ll be RIGHTFULLY early favorites for winning this competition. Keyword: early!!
The third quarter slump
When we fumbled that last pass that landed in Hougaard’s hands only to punt the ball up field which resulted in a Basson try, I told my mate here comes the slump which I’ll start calling the triple S: the Stormers super slump!! I dont want to but the Stormers wont leave me any choice if they continue throwing away good leads which makes life much harder for them in the last 10 – 15minutes. Yes, it is pleasing to see that we have enough in the tank to get ourselves out of those slumps but as a Stormers fan you cant help but worry when will we make that hole so deep that we cant get out. Which leads me to the next point.
More veteran leadership
I’ve got a guy that pops in our office every now and then and once business talks are done, we start talking sports. The last time he came in, he gave me quite a mouthful on how we don’t need Schalk Burger anymore because of the rise of Koster & Kolisi. That’s usually when I do my penguins-of-the-madagascar-movie thing: just smile & wave
Even though it’s great to see youngsters like the above mentioned & Eben, Kirshoff, Malherbe and company are performing so well I do feel that sometimes the veterans in the pack ala Liebenberg, Bekker & Vermeulen can disappear a little and usually around the times when we’re in the slumps. Jean is a good & respected captain but he probably knows as much as some of the refs do about what’s going on in the engine room. Burger is definitely missed in this regard so while he’s out, other veterans will have to start showing more leadership. And no I’m not just picking on the fatties, the backline will get their turn now now..
The 80’s & 90’s are long gone
I bet if we went to the archives and looked for a game between WP & the Bulls that Province won on Newlands during the 80’s and 90’s, your chances of finding a game where the Streeptruie ran in some brilliant running rugby tries are pretty good. So when you consider that the current Stormers backline:
- has one of the most intelligent & creative 12’s this country has ever produced
- 2 wings whose speed, pace & quickness are right up there with the best of them
- a 13 that can side step quicker than a hiccup and a 10 & 15 who’d prefer keeping ball in hand than to kick it away
With the above mentioned its mind-boggling wondering why they can’t score more tries but that is the case at the moment. For me personally, as long as we win the game, I’ll be happy but having said that, my body can’t help shift a little closer to the tv when those guys decide to start running. But times have changed, teams are much better organized defensively than what they were 10 – 20 years ago and one thing every Stormer fan must accept, it’s that this isn’t the running rugby Province side we grew up watching and they haven’t been for years now.
And the nr. 1 reason why no one should be considered favorites..
This competition is wide open
The final of this competition is scheduled for the 4th of August and we just started the month of April a couple of days ago. A LOT can still happen till that time. Of course the main thing every team fears is injuries. The Reds, Blues (2 pre-seasons favorites – see there’s that word again) & Lions are just some of the teams that fell out of favor with the rugby gods and their results are evidence of that. The other thing is the days are gone where NZ teams dominate the competition, SA sides being unable to win overseas or one just Ozzy side representing the whole of Australia.. Well that last one is still happening but you get my drift. And with this new conference setup with 3 wild card teams (which sux by the way) that creates a bigger opportunity to get into the knockouts stage, it certainly doesn’t make it easier to travel say Pretoria, Sydney or Dunedin.
Favorites?? Nah man, it’s way too early for that. And we saw last season that even home ground advantage doesn’t guarantee a ticket to the finals. And that was the very team that’s currently the only unbeaten side in the competition. Favorites?? Sorry salesman, but I’m not buying that!!!