Pivotal poser facing Stormers ahead of Kimberley trip
SUPER RUGBY UNLOCKED SPOTLIGHT: Stormers coach John Dobson has hinted the time to make some tough decisions has arrived.
Following their embarrassing 6-39 capitulation to the Bulls this past weekend, Dobson did his level best not to throw his under-performing players under the bus.
Even though he touched on the fact that there was ‘poor body language’ at stages in a shocking first half at Loftus Versfeld, he felt they could still turn things around.
However, when quizzed about possible selections for the Round Five trip to Kimberley and a meeting with an unpredictable Griquas team, the Stormers coach admitted he will have to start thinking about his selection options.
“We took a policy – it’s not unreasonable and it’s pretty widespread across the game – that you give the guys almost three games,” Dobson said about possible personnel changes.
You know it’s hard to judge somebody on one game,” he said, adding: “That becomes a knee jerk reaction.
“I think after three games you have a reasonable sample size.
“That is something we have got to look at.”
Probably the biggest poser is at flyhalf, where Springbok World Cup winner Damian Willemse is having a nightmare season.
His horror show started in the pre-season Springbok trial at Newlands early last month, when veteran Elton Jantjies (playing for the Green team) showed him up.
The knock his confidence took flowed over to the domestic competition.
Willemse started for the Stormers in their fortuitous 23-17 win over the Lions. He missed the trip to Nelspruit through injury – where Tim Swiel (who was on the bench at Newlands) started in the 42-37 come-from-behind win over the Pumas.
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This past weekend Willemse was back in the No.10 jersey, with Swiel on the bench, and the Stormers Bok again got schooled by a veteran, Morné Steyn.
Given that neither Willemse nor Swiel has managed to stamp their authority on the game, Dobson may well be tempted to look elsewhere.
While Dobson was cautious not to reveal too much, he may well have to look at teenage sensation Kade Wolhuter.
The 19-year-old, who is a member of the Stormers’ wider squad, has not featured in the Super Rugby Unlocked competition and was on the Western Province Under-21 team’s bench only once.
However, he must have impressed South Africa’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber at some stage, as he was part of the Green team in the Springbok trial at Newlands.
He came off the bench in that Bok trial.
Kimberley is not the ideal place to blood a youngster, but the lack of authority shown by the incumbents mean Dobson may well be swayed to take a punt on the teenager.