Stormers

made his Super debut in 2004 Home ground: Newlands Coach: Allister Coetzee (right) 2012 log position: 1 (SA), 2 (overall) Captain: Schalk Burger

versus
Stormers captain

The Sharks
Keegan Daniel
has scored 11 tries in 83 Super matches Home ground: Kings Park Coach: John Plumtree (left) Captain: Keegan Daniel 2012 log position: 3 (SA), 6 (overall)

Schalk Burger

2012 synopsis
With defence as their watchword, the Stormers all but shut teams out with a miserly defence. Unfortunately, they were as profligate on the other side of the paddock, being the only side that did not score a four-try bonus point. Their win-at-all-costs approach was able to get them a home semifinal by virtue of being the South African conference winners. Their approach was always going to be exposed when they faced teams whose attacking instincts had the potential to unlock their defence and match their physicality. The Sharks and the Crusaders were the only teams that bested the Cape outfit. Crucially, the Sharks did it again in the semifinal, giving the Stormers their unwanted chokers tag. That defeat was avenged by the Currie Cup unit, but Super Rugby is a different kettle of fish

2012 synopsis
The perennial Super Rugby bridesmaids left themselves with too much to do after their customary slow start. Their head of steam though consisted of some excellent continuity play and attacking rugby, which stunned opponents, more so the Reds and Stormers, who just could not contain them in the playoffs. Those travel exertions killed them in the final against the Chiefs in Hamilton, but they were by far the most rounded South African team. The choking bug did not desert them, also losing the Currie Cup final, but they will need to be consistent if they are to win the competition

Strengths
The Stormers will be one of the fittest sides in the tournament. To sustain the kind of defensive efforts they are known for, fitness has to be somewhere near the stratosphere. With not much change to their playing and coaching personnel, expect the dam wall to thicken

Weaknesses
Their attack was much maligned, but their real Achilles heel lay with their front-row woes. They are woefully inexperienced in that department and scrums were seen as walking penalties. Valuable lessons were learnt in the Currie Cup and they have to be put into good use. If there is something you cannot escape with in Super Rugby, it is a weak scrum

Strengths
The forwards were their major shining light for the best part of last season and they will be the fulcrum of their effort this year. Fatigue might be an issue because of Springbok involvement, but should they give their back line the platform they provided last year, they will be a handful

Weaknesses
It lies between inconsistency and mental fragility, but those were two factors that nearly scuppered their campaign. With a side as battlehardened as the Sharks, some of their brain fades were inexcusable and caught up with them at the end of the season. If they can rid themselves of their mental demons, their talent, depth mixed with the right tactic, will pull them through

Bubbling under

Bubbling under

Key player: Elton Jantjies tjies
Jantjies’ move to the Cape will almost certainly relegate Peter Grant to the bench if the national picture is put into the frame. It will be interesting to see how Jantjies will fare in a winning environment because when the Lions marched to the Currie Cup in 2011, he fed off the positive momentum. It will have to be channelled into his attacking and vision game to spark a latently talented back line that has to fire this season Siya Kolisi Jaco Taute Scarra Ntubeni Dale Chadwick Sbura Sithole Wandile Mjekevu

Key player: Jean Deysel
His season was a stop-start affair due to injuries, but he will form part of a pack that will definitely be cooking this season. Staking a claim to a Springbok jersey will not be easy, due to team-mates Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts and Keegan Daniel’s presence, but it allows the Sharks depth other teams can only wish for

2013 prediction
They will be punching above with the top guns, but it will be hard to see them get past the semifinals

2013 prediction
Possible tournament winners, provided they pitch up in the right state of mind

Photos: Backpagepix

KHANYISO TSHWAKU, JACO GROBBELAAR, Graphics24

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful