'Potentially a season-defining game for us'
SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: There is a lot more riding on Saturday’s Kings Park showdown between the Sharks and Stormers than a mere four league points.
Stormers coach John Dobson said his team’s loss to the Blues at Newlands a fortnight ago has put the side in a predicament.
After their trip to Durban for a clash with the new tournament leaders, the Sharks, they head over to Buenos Aires to face last year’s beaten finalists the Jaguares.
It has the potential to derail their season altogether should they lose both away matches – leaving them with three consecutive defeats, after having won the first four matches.
“It’s a massive game for us,” Dobson said, as his team stepped up their build-up towards this week’s Kings Park outing.
“It is funny how the world can change so quickly,” he said of the dramatically changing competition landscape.
“In terms of the conference, what happened last week [Sharks beating the Jaguares], it was the best result for us.
“If the Jaguares gets going [a run of results] and we have to go to Buenos Aires [next week], it could be tricky.
“It is a conference-defining, potentially a season-defining game for us,” he said of the Durban outing.
“The Sharks have already toured and these conference games, with their eight- to 10-point swings, are vital.”
Dobson pointed out how dramatically things changed in the last fortnight.
His team went from the table-topping and only unbeaten team to being in a potential ‘slump’.
“The competition still has a long way to go, but for us, it does feel like a season-defining match.”
- Continue reading below …
The Stormers could potentially play Jean-Luc du Plessis at flyhalf and move Damian Willemse to fullback – with both having run at flyhalf in training this week.
“It is an option,” Dobson said of the potential switch, adding: “We are not completely broken, so I don’t want to panic.”
Meanwhile prop Alistair Vermaak has again been ruled out, after injuring his should against the Lions in week four.
Jaco Coetzee took a blow to the neck in training, but Dobson said he should be fine to face the Sharks.
Coetzee is a vital cog for the Stormers – who are already without three World Cup-winning Springboks.
Pieter-Steph du Toit underwent surgery for a haematoma he suffered in the loss to the Blues, Bongi Mbonambi suffered a hamstring injury in the opening match against the Hurricanes and Siyamthanda Kolisi, suffered a knee injury against the Hurricanes.
Du Toit is expected to be sidelined for eight weeks and Kolisi is also expected to return for the latter stages of the competition.
However, Mbonambi has been ruled out for the rest of the season.