Stormers eye their first big Euro scalp
INTERVIEW: ‘It is Munster.’ That, in a nutshell, is the driving force for the Stormers ahead of their United Rugby Championship Round Two encounter this week.
Stormers centre Ruhan Nel said facing the Irish giants, Munster, at their Limerick home of Thomond Park is the type of game you want to be involved in.
The Cape Town franchise will look to make amends for their slip-up against Benetton last week – going down 18-22 to a late score by the Italian team.
They have three matches remaining on this trip – against the two-time European champions Munster, Edinburgh and Dragons.
Nel, a former BlitzBok star turned 15-a-side stalwart in the Stormers midfield, said playing in front of a packed Thomond Park crowd will serve as added motivation for the South African outfit.
“We are really eager to get out there and rectify the mistakes we made [against Benetton] this past weekend,” he told a virtual media briefing.
Nel also spoke about the heavy South African presence – which includes head coach Johann van Graan, defence coach JP Ferreira, along with players like Springbok Rudolph Snyman and Chris Cloete.
There is also the need to adjust from the Italian approach (Benetton) to the Irish (Munster) style – the type of readjustments he became very familiar with while on the Sevens circuit.
“We do our research on the opposition and have plans in place,” Nel told @rugby365com, adding: “However, we are very much internally motivated.”
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He added that their focus is on avoiding soft moments and sticking to the plan for the full 80 minutes.
“I don’t think we need to reinvent the wheel every week,” he said, adding that they are aware of the areas they need improvements in.
Norman Laker, the Stormers’ defence coach, admitted the heavy South African influence in the Munster coaching set-up makes it a unique challenge.
“They don’t have a typical South African approach, but there are touches of the blueprint left over from Van Graan’s time with [former Springbok coach] Heyneke Meyer at the Bulls,” Laker said.
“They are very accurate with their out-of-hand kicking game and make very few mistakes in their own half.
“There are touches of how the Bulls played [in the 1990s], but they [Van Graan and Ferreira] added their own flavour.
“Munster has found a good balance between the two styles [South African and Irish] which can deliver some success for them.”
Stormers head coach John Dobson said that his team will need to work on their line-out and defensive discipline this week, after letting themselves down in those areas last Saturday.
“Overall it was a disappointing performance from us,” Dobson said, adding: “To be 11 points (18-7) up with 25 minutes to go and then fall away as we did was poor.
“Our line-out was poor, we gave away a couple of scrum penalties and our discipline was poor. We learned some quite big lessons,” he added.
“Munster is going to be another level up.
“They have a massive kicking game, so we can expect an aerial assault.
“They are a great set-piece team with a big pack of forwards, it is going to be another step up,” Dobson added.