Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said the Stormers again showed in their 13-14 defeat to the Crusaders in Christchurch last Saturday that they will be difficult to break down. “Over the last couple of years the Stormers have had the best defensive record in the competition and you saw why against the Crusaders,” Rennie said. “They obviously have a lot of character in their group and they are going to be a tough defensive unit to crack.”
Stormers boss Allister Coetzee returned the favour, speaking about the return of players like fullback Gareth Anscombe and Test lock Brodie Retallick from injury as the reason why the New Zealand conference leaders will test the visitors’ resolve. “They will be well rested [after last week’s bye] and they will be fresh,” Coetzee told a media briefing this week.
The Stormers coach said the Chiefs are a side that thrives on quick ball and they come out of the line and put teams under pressure. “We know exactly what the Chiefs will bring to this game,” he said, adding that the key will be to “win the collisions”. “Against any New Zealand team that is a must, that’s where its got to start,” Coetzee said of the collisions.
Coetzee is also looking to his loose forward combination to give his team an edge in what is likely to be another nailbiter. He said they really played well against the Crusaders last week and the trio of Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen and Deon Fourie were “massive physically” against a quality side. “In terms of the collisions they were huge,” Coetzee said, adding: “Dean Fourie got 21 tackles, Schalk Burger 18 tackles, Duane Vermeulen 15 tackles. Duane Vermeulen made 11 carries, Schalk Burger 12 carries and Deon Fourie nine carries.
“They have put in a tremendous amount of work and that is what is expected this weekend again,” he said, adding that he opted to keep the loose forward combination intact instead of moving Fourie to hooker where injury has depleted his resources.
The Chiefs, coming off a bye, are about to enter their longest run of games without a break since Rennie took over the team in 2012. They will play nine matches on the trot before their next bye and Rennie feels victory in Hamilton will set up their road-trip nicely. ”We’ve got a trip to Perth and South Africa [next week],” the Chiefs mentor said, adding: “We’re away three weeks, but there are some real positives around that. ”We’ll be training at altitude and we think we’ll get some benefits from that coming home.”
2013: Stormers won 36-34, Cape Town
2011: Chiefs won 30-23, Hamilton
2010: Stormers won 49-15, Hamilton
2009: Chiefs won 28-14, Cape Town
2008: Stormers won 35-26, Hamilton
2007: Stormers won 21-16, Cape Town
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Michael Fitzgerald, 20 Tevita Koloamatangi, 21 Brad Webber, 22 Robbie Fruean, 23 Asaeli Tikoirotuma.
Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Siya Kolisi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant, Shane McDermott
TMO: Ben Skeen