Coetzee wouldn’t mind another derby
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee consistently refused to be drawn when he was questioned at a press conference on Thursday over who he would prefer to see as his team’s opponents in next week’s Vodacom Super Rugby semifinal at Newlands.
“What I do know is that whoever we are up against it will be a quality side,” was all that Coetzee would offer in reference to Saturday’s first round of the Super Rugby Finals Series.
The Crusaders, Sharks and the Bulls are the only possible opponents for the Stormers, as the Reds, by finishing third, have guaranteed themselves a trip across the Tasman Sea to play against the Chiefs should they beat the Sharks in the second match on Saturday. The way the competition works it is the lowest ranked qualifier left in the competition that plays the top ranked team in the semifinal round, with the highest rank going to the venue of the team that finished second overall.
But while Coetzee said he wasn’t going to be drawn and wasn’t offering any definite prediction, he did say enough to offer a hint of what he would prefer. And it is probably fair to say that he wouldn’t mind another South African derby match against either the Bulls or the Sharks than a repeat of last year’s semifinal against the Crusaders.
“It is true that in a derby the visiting team will have a lot of support from the Newlands crowd, but then isn’t that the case when Crusaders come here?” asked Coetzee.
“Last year I even noticed quite a few Australian fans in the terraces when we played against the Reds. Newlands is a weird place. We have massive support there, but then the visiting teams also get support. So from that viewpoint I am not sure it will make that much difference.”
Coetzee was responding to a question where he was asked if it would be better to play against an overseas team as then the whole country would be behind the Stormers. It is when it comes to the issue of what to expect from the opposing teams that Coetzee seems to be rooting for a Sharks or Bulls win in one of the games to be played on Saturday.
“The thing about the South African teams is that we know each other so well. The players play together at Springbok level and they play against each other so often that there is seldom anything that takes you by surprise. Both the Bulls and Sharks are physical, the difference between them being that the Bulls rely more on their kicking game and the Sharks like to spread it a bit.
“But against both teams getting the physical ascendancy is an imperative and if you do that you are a long way towards winning. If you can blunt the Bulls’ kicking game, and force them to kick poorly, it is the same. The overseas teams on the other hand take you out of your comfort zone. The Reds, in particular, are good at doing that, you never know what to expect from them, but it is the same with the Crusaders. They constantly make changes to their approach that takes you out of your comfort zone.”