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VIDEO: Stormers wary of 'Pollard factor'

The Stormers will embark on the toughest challenge of the year when they kick-off their Champions Cup campaign this weekend.

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Having finished as runners-up in the United Rugby Championship (URC)  last season, the Stormers now face away matches against Leicester Tigers and Stade Francais and home games at the Cape Town Stadium against defending champions La Rochelle and Sale Sharks.

The first challenge is at Welford Road on Sunday against a Leicester Tigers side littered with South African beef – Francois van Wyk, Hanro Liebenberg and Jasper Wiese.

They all played a role in the Tigers’ 47-3 Premiership demolition of Newcastle Falcons this past weekend.

However, the player the Stormers are most wary of – ahead of their Champions Cup Round One outing at Welford Road on Sunday – is two-time World Cup-winning flyhalf Handre Pollard.

Stormers defence coach Norman Laker is well-accustomed with the qualities of Pollard – since his days with the Junior Boks back from 2012 to 2014 and also in his time with the Bulls (up to the 2019 World Cup).

“He drives the [Leicester] team, just as he does with the Boks,” the Stormers defence coach said.

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“He has a very good kicking game and a calm head.”

However, Pollard is not the Tigers’ only ‘ball player’.

They have England international Freddie Steward at fullback and they also have the muscle of Springbok hard man Jasper Wiese at loose forward.

(WATCH as Stormers defence coach Norman Laker previews the Champions Cup Round One encounter with Leicester Tigers…)

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It is their “structure” that’s going to pose the big challenge.

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Apart from Pollard’s kicking game, Laker believes the Tigers have carriers that can bust any defence wide open.

“We have done our analyses and made some good plans,” the Stormers assistant coach said.

The Stormers have encountered kicking and tactical games on par with what Saracens is expected to deliver, given that they regularly encounter United Rugby Championship loaded with international stars throughout the season.

Laker, born in Somerset West on the 30 December 1984 and schooled at Paul Roos Gymnasium, worked his way through the Western Province and Stormers coaching structures – starting at Alan Zondagh’s academy in 2005 and 2006.

Now, rated as one of the foremost defence coaches in the country, he is plotting the downfall of his compatriots in the Tigers;’ camp.

@king365ed
@rugby365com

 

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