STORMERS coach Allister Coetzee will not ring the changes for Saturday’s clash against the Sharks after his charges gave a lacklustre display in their Super 15 opener against the Bulls last weekend.
The Stormers slumped to a 25-17 defeat, largely due to a woeful first half, in which the lineout and scrum struggled and flyhalf Elton Jantjies missed three kicks. (He missed another in the second half.)
The arrival of flyhalf Peter Grant and centre Juan de Jongh at training on Monday was good news for the side. But although Jantjies endured a Stormers debut he would rather forget, Coetzee is unlikely to jettison him on the basis of one performance, even with Grant in the wings.
"You have to keep a level head about what happened," he said. "It was only the first game of the season and I was aware that we wouldn’t be at our best straight away. There were always going to be mistakes and I want to give the players an opportunity to rectify those mistakes.
"The good thing is that if there isn’t improvement in game two, we have quality players to fall back on without upsetting continuity.
"Losing is not the end of the world, but the way we lost was not up to the standard we expect from ourselves. We made so many mistakes and we could almost never put them under pressure because we not only had to defend when they had the ball, but also when we had it, because we turned it over often," Coetzee said.
"We had some hard, but frank … words this morning (Monday) and the players know they have to take ownership of their performances."
The coach also refused to put the blame for Friday’s defeat squarely on Jantjies’s shoulders. "I know Elton is taking a lot of flak but I maintain that he still did a lot of good things in the game. He is still a quality player and he struggled with his goal-kicking on the night," he said.
"It’s brilliant to have Peter Grant back and it will be interesting to see how he settles in because we have a few different ideas this year, which he will have to catch up with."
Coetzee would not be drawn on whether changes were in store for this weekend’s potentially thunderous clash against the Sharks in Durban, but he confirmed that fullback Jaco Taute would miss the match.
"Jaco took a knock to the testicles and is in hospital for observation overnight because there was blood in his urine. But other than that everyone should be fit. I’d like to see Juan de Jongh (hamstring) get through one more tough training session, while prop Pat Cilliers (suspected concussion) has passed all the necessary cognitive tests."
• Sergeal Petersen was not rated when he first joined the Southern Kings. Soon after coming into the team straight from school there were fears that the 18-year-old winger would not make it in Super Rugby.
"For the first two days after he joined us Sergeal struggled," said Kings boss Cheeky Watson. "We were worried whether he would come through."
But those misgivings soon disappeared and on Saturday Petersen repaid the Kings’ faith in him with two sensational tries in their 22-10 win over the Western Force.
"Sergeal has matured in a matter of months and has grown into the team," said Watson.
"It is wonderful to see Sergeal, who is a homegrown player, come through. This is fantastic for rugby in our region."
With George Byron