Stormers assistant coach Norman Laker says their defensive structures will be crucial when they face the Crusaders at Newlands on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The Stormers, fresh from a bye, looked in high spirits while training at their high-performance centre in Bellville on Monday, having welcomed Pieter-Steph du Toit back from an injury niggle.
There were two absentees though, as JD Schickerling picked up a hand injury in the loss against the Jaguares, which has definitely ruled him out of this weekend’s clash. Meanwhile, Jean-Luc du Plessis has an issue with his hamstring and did not take part in the drills, but will be given until the end of tomorrow’s session to prove his fitness.
Regardless, the Stormers will know that they need to up their defensive structures after watching the Crusaders dismantle the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus last weekend as the New Zealanders strode to a 45-13 victory.
‘It is also a good challenge and something we look forward to,’ said Laker, who handles the team’s defence. ‘We have been priding ourselves on our defence over the last few weeks. It has been going well all season.
‘Obviously the results have not gone our way. Normally if your defence is good then you get the result, but unfortunately in this case, it has not been like that. We have come short by five or six points on some occasions and the team have actually played well and defended well.
‘They [the Saders] are a well-coached team and have experienced players in certain positions which make a huge difference. Especially in the flyhalf and centre positions, while also having Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock back. We need to stay patient defensively.’
Laker added that there was something his charges could learn from the Sharks 21-21 draw in Christchurch, where the visitors denied the home side the space they so often thrive upon.
‘The Sharks were phenomenal playing in those conditions, and I do think it suited the Sharks a bit more than the Crusaders. But the Sharks physically manned up to the Crusaders and defensively were outstanding.’
The Stormers will also have to be wary of the Crusaders’ kicking game, as flyhalf Richie Mo’unga created havoc with his cross-field kicks in particular, putting the Bulls under massive pressure.
‘It is tough, like I told the guys this morning, those are two brilliant passes with the foot. It is the understanding between the flyhalf and the two wingers. You can’t really plan for something like that. You must just be aware that it might come your way and make sure you know where the opposition wing is standing.’
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