Coach John Dobson remains committed to his plan to use Warrick Gelant as an impact player off the Stormers bench. DYLAN JACK reports.
Gelant was somewhat surprisingly named on the bench for last week’s trip to Pretoria to face the Vodacom Bulls.
The 26-year-old made an excellent impact when he came on to the field in the second half, playing a crucial role in two tries, including the late winner at Loftus Versfeld finished by Paul de Wet.
This has led to calls to bring him back into the starting lineup against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday, but Dobson is sticking to his stated plan to get “as big an impact as possible” from a rotation between Gelant and Damian Willemse.
“I think it’s important when you make a plan, to keep with it because it doesn’t just affect those two players but others as well. So we have worked out a plan for the four games and we are going to stick to it,” Dobson explained. “Warrick will be on the bench this week.
“People will say Warrick was good when he came on, why isn’t he starting? The obvious answer is that is the plan that we’ve got. Having said that, I think Damian Willemse’s general game was absolutely magnificent. The way we dominated the backfield was really good for us.
“The second thing is, the role for Warrick last week as an impact player was to open things up, and it went absolutely according to plan. The plan doesn’t change because Warrick made those two magic passes. I think it was right and we committed to it and are comfortable with what we will do this weekend in that respect.”
One suggestion to accommodate both Gelant and Willemse in the same lineup is to shift Willemse to inside centre, where he has also been tried at Test level.
However, Dobson said doing that, with the added pressure of local derbies, would be unfair on Willemse, as well as on the other centres in the squad.
“I happen to think the guy could still be a very good flyhalf. He was chosen for the national team against Wales at fullback. To move him there is something that’s going to take a fair bit of concentration. It must be what suits Damian’s role, where he wants to go.
“The other thing is, if you move him in, like I suggested, it affects other players. Rikus Pretorius and Dan du Plessis are doing really, really well. It’s something that takes time. We have to plan for these local derbies. To move someone to a new position with the pressure of the local derbies, which have huge consequences in terms of the log, it won’t be fair on Damian if you keep shifting his role.
“Our view was to look at it after four games. We will also see what Warrick’s long-term plans are because Warrick is out of contract at the end of June. I have got no doubt he is going to stay. We will go with this plan for the next three weeks.”
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images