Depth saved Stormers' bacon
The Stormers will be encouraged with the depth that they have amongst the big men as Springbok prop Pat Cilliers makes only his second start of the Super Rugby season.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has ensured this season the Stormers are not going to get caught short in terms of front row replacements, after the injury to Tiaan Liebenberg and the suspension of Steven Kitshoff forced a number of changes up front.
The coach called up Deon Fourie and Pat Cilliers in place of the two front rankers that will miss this weekends fixture against the Crusaders at Newlands.
Coetzee mentioned: "When you lose players, especially for the sake of continuity, it is a bit of a concern. However, the players coming in are not first-timers.
"Deon Fourie has scrummed against the Bulls and the Sharks – [he] started both of those games.
"Pat Cilliers is a Springbok and he has played at loosehead before," the coach added.
Having two players of this calibre to bring into the starting XV is a blessing for Coetzee. Tradionally that would have left holes on the bench, but not this season.
With the acquisition of Martin Bezuidenhout from the Lions they have another hooker with Super Rugby experience and at prop they bring in Brok Harris, a veteran of 77 Super Rugby matches, as cover.
The Stormers are a little light on back-up hookers at this stage but Siyabonga Ntubeni is well on his way to recovery.
"Fortunately Scarra [Siyabonga] Ntubeni is on the field already so he probably needs two or three weeks to see how his fitness goes, he will be ready to tour with the Stormers."
The Stormers have realised the threat the Crusaders pose and the coach is aware that his side needs to hold onto the ball if they want to reap any sort of reward.
"Against a quality side like the Crusaders you have to make sure that your basics are working well, your set-piece is functioning well because they are like the Brumbies and if you give them the ball you don't see it for a period.
"You are not just going to put them under pressure and turn the ball over you have got to really work hard and look after yours," Coetzee mentioned.
The Crusaders are a side with an incredibly strong set-piece and that is how they base their attack, controlling the set-phase and then opening up defences with persistent attack.
"They are very accurate, they have got a great line-out and it's difficult to contest their line-out.
"I see their line-out accuracy is very good, and is important in terms of their success rate," the coach stressed.
With a change amongst the tight five there is bound to be a bit of rust at the set-piece but the players coming in are very much aware of the requirements.
"Our set-piece is crucial and we are going to have to take our opportunities against them like we did against the Brumbies.
"We have to reproduce what we did last weekend – that's the bottom line," Coetzee added.
By Nick Tatham