‘Koch needs game time’

Former Bok prop Cobus Visagie believes the Stormers should play Vincent Koch as much as possible to aid his development. BRENTON CHELIN reports.

There were surprises aplenty this weekend – none more so than in Pretoria. While there was always the suspicion that the Stormers might pull a fast one, the manner of their victory against their traditional rivals made for interesting viewing.

The Bulls' scrumming performance against Saracens in London hinted at an underlying issue, but it wasn't until they were pummelled into the Loftus turf that it became a very harsh reality.

In the opposition side, a tighthead prop that had been deemed surplus to requirements at Loftus. Now honing his skills in Cape Town via Nelspruit, the 24-year-old Koch turned in a stellar performance on his Vodacom Super Rugby debut.

Former WP and Stormers prop Visagie told SARugbymag.co.za of his surprise at the Bulls' decision to let Koch pursue his career elsewhere. The Bulls' loss is the Stormers' gain.

'It’s amazing that a player like that could’ve been overlooked by the Bulls,' said Visagie. 'Last year I watched him when Western Province played Saracens and I thought then that he could be a very good player for the Stormers. I spoke to Gert [Smal] after the game and told him I was very impressed with his technique.

'A tighthead prop must get as much power as possible through the smallest area to create the biggest impact. Jannie [du Plessis] and Coenie [Oosthuizen] are too broad, meaning their power is negated. Vincent has the right frame and technique for the job.

'It wasn’t only the way he scrummed. It was his work around the field. I don’t think there was a tighthead anywhere in the competition that got through as much work as he did.'

Having watched Koch during a pre-season match against the Cheetahs at Newlands, it's clear this performance is no once-off. A willing ball-carrier and powerful scrummager, Koch was one of the standouts in a 38-32 victory.

With former SA U20 prop Wilco Louw on the bench and Frans Malherbe nearing a return to full fitness, Koch has his work cut out to retain his place in the starting XV. Visagie believes it will be in the Stormers' best interests that he retains the No 3 jersey in the coming weeks.

'It’s still early in the season, but I’d have liked to see him play a full 80 minutes [against the Bulls]. If the Stormers coaches can get him playing 80 minutes week after week, then they’d be in a very strong position.'

Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix