Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says they will look to tick the right boxes in the pre-season friendly against the Bulls at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Saturday.
Coetzee said the Cape side would be focused on getting their structures and set pieces right rather than put the emphasis on securing a win.
“I don’t expect my players to hit the ground running this weekend. The focus is internally, on what we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks, and to see how that pans out under pressure,” Coetzee said on Monday.
“Let me say from the outset that the results of these warm-up matches are not of primary importance but that does not mean we won’t care about winning these matches.
“We have a few objectives in terms of the breakdown, our kicking game, set phase etcetera and we want to make sure we achieve those little goals.
“We’ll try to do things we have not done previously and we’ll communicate our intentions to the referee so that we stand to benefit with what we are doing in the match.”
The Stormers have arranged three warm-up games this year, one more than last season, with friendlies against Southern Kings and Boland also lined up, while the Bulls have opted for just Saturday’s solitary hit-out.
Coetzee said the teams would therefore have contrasting goals this weekend.
“This will be the Bulls’ only pre-season friendly so the two teams’ focus will be entirely different,” he said.
“Last year we made a slow start to our season and as a result we opted for three warm-up matches this time.
“Part of the planning is playing away from home, which was done to take the players out of their comfort zone. We also want to use these games to see what the youngsters can do and whether our depth is sufficient.”
Coetzee highlighted the second row and the outside backs as areas on concern due to injuries to the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Manual Carizza, De Kock Steenkamp, Cheslin Kolbe and Jaco Taute.
“With Cheslin Kolbe out for a while, we’re rather thin in the back three,” he admitted.
“Fullback Jaco Taute is back from injury but, at this stage, he’s not quite ready to play in the opening match. We’re also looking at Taute to play in the midfield later this season.
“We know we need to strengthen our player resources in some areas and we’ll be looking at local talent first. Once we’ve assessed the situation we may have to look outside our province but our culture is such that we give local talent a chance to make the step up.
“I’ve never been shy to give young players an opportunity and there’s no better opportunity than to play the Bulls away from home,” said Coetzee, adding, “We’ll have a balanced side with the majority of the players getting 60 minutes.”
Coetzee said once the season gets underway, they’ll be sure to avoid making the same mistakes they did last year.
“We learned from last year. We’ll follow our processes because once you focus on just the win you forget about the smaller steps to get you there. You can’t afford to fall behind too far too quick.
He added: “It’s important that you hang in there and have your key players available at the business end of the competition.”
Coetzee also welcomed the Round One bye and the team’s draw, which includes a challenging overseas tour consisting of matches against the Crusaders, Chiefs, Brumbies and Reds.
“The bye first up is not a problem. You get an extra week, so your build up is different. You get to see the other teams play in the first round and you get a feel for how the referees officiate because the refs will have new focus points.
“I quite like the fact that we have seven games between byes. The draw is tough but playing those sides away isn’t always a bad thing. Those are teams that can beat you at home as well, so for us to pick up points there will be a good thing.”