We all know that their season has been one to forget and with two rounds left to play in this year’s Super Rugby comp, it’s time to salvage what we can in terms of pride and focus on the future. It feels as though a weight has been lifted off the players and their supporters as the possibility of making the playoffs fell away some time ago and this has seen the team win four of their last five matches. Whilst I would naturally love to see us in a position to win the comp, it’s somewhat surreal watching the players having a go without the weight of expectation upon them. This can most certainly be construed as a defeatist attitude, yet I feel that it is important to take as many positives as we can from a poor season. Forget what’s happening on the log, this is what I’m looking forward to from the Stormers against the Bulls this weekend.
A PACKED NEWLANDS
There is no better rugby venue in the world to attend than the Hallowed Grounds of Newlands. The build up beers at any one of Forries, Barristers or The Toad sets the mood which is amplified by the lazy stroll through the leafy suburb of Newlands and is something that I cherish each and every time the Stormers play at home. As you near the stadium, you can almost taste the excitement in the air and as you round the corner and see the Hallowed Grounds towering above the trees, you know it’s game time. As you file your way through the ecstatic crowd to the correct gate and go in search of your seat you are suddenly struck by the heritage which surrounds you. It’s an awe-inspiring stadium made full week in and week out by a passionately knowledgable crowd who expect only the best. If it gets me amped, imaging what it does for the players. Let’s pack it out this weekend!
THE RETURN OF SCHALK BURGER
The man is the darling of Newlands and his rise from the ashes is legendary at best. The way he took to the rigours of International rugby of late is proof that Schalk is pure class. A lot is expected of him this weekend as he pulls on the Stormers’ no. 7 jersey and fronts up to a physical Bulls outfit. My gut feeling is that Schalk will handle all which is thrown at him with aplomb.
THE ELECTRIFYING CHESLIN KOLBE
Hell this kid is electrifying. He hasn’t had the best start to his Stormers career – due to a rather bad knee injury – but the kid has shown glimpses of the player he was last year when playing for both the Junior Boks and Blitzbokke. It’s only a matter of time before he’s back to his best and hopefully he’ll get some ball on the wing this weekend. If and when he does, expect something to happen.
GIO APLON OUTSTRIPPING SOMEONE
Another player who is simply electrifying. Somewhat longer in the tooth, Gio – or Appels – has crawled his way into every Stormers fan’s hearts through a combination of guts, speed and heart. I was as devastated – as Gio must have been – when he got injured earlier this season (who can forget that sickening image of him dislocating his elbow) and have counted the days to his return as he offers so much more than any other fullback-come-wing ever will in a Stormers’ jersey. Gio is off to France after this year’s Super Rugby comp so we should appreciate his genius whilst we can.
SEABELO SENATLA MAKING HIS DEBUT
I was really excited to when I heard that the Blitzbok had signed for the WPRU but often wondered when we would see him in the streeptrui? The speedster has lit up the Sevens World Series and has everything you could dream of in the speed, agility and strength departments. Rumours did reached my ears that he’d play in the Currie Cup this year so it was with great excitement that I read about his inclusion in this weekends squad. Whilst he’ll make his Super Rugby and Stormers début off the bench this weekend, I have full confidence that he’ll dominate if given the opportunity.
THE CONTINUATION OF A POSITIVE MINDSET
Since Gert Smal took over the reins at The Hallowed Grounds of Newlands, a change of mindset with regards to style of play has come over both the coaching staff and players and – as mentioned above – has seen the team win four of their last five matches before the International break. Whilst it wasn’t always great to watch the results went our way and the emphasis on scoring tries was clear to see which is as heartening a sign as any Stormers fan would want to see at this stage of the season. The team have shown the will towards positive intent on the field, rather than the defensively negative one of the past. I hope – and pray – that this continues.
It is really is easy to bash the Stormers at the moment. But in all honesty, what is the point? Yes, they’ve had a shite season and yes they’ve had more than their fair share of injuries. Those are the facts, but with two games to go, is it worth the energy lost in having a go at them? It just spreads more negativity and that is the last thing which we should surround our beloved Stormers with. Let’s enjoy the last moments we have with them as a team.
In the words of Kevin Aucoin”
“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.”
You stay classy,