Petersen knows Jaguares will prove tough task for Stormers
Winger says the clash will determine the top of the Super Rugby conference
Sergeal Petersen ghosted and then sped past the nearest cliché when asked about the significance of Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Jaguares at Newlands.
Players and coaches usually seek refuge in the mind-numbing “we take a one game at a time” drivel, but Petersen provided long-term perspective even if the Super Rugby season is only three weeks deep.
“It is the game that will determine the top of the conference. This will be a big game for us‚ the two conference leaders meeting. This will test our character and see how far we’ve come in terms of structure and understanding detail‚” said Petersen.
He was in little doubt that the Jaguares would prove redoubtable opposition and the Stormers would have to call on the qualities that have made them such a difficult team to break down at home.
“Newlands is our fortress. It is our goal to concede the fewest points anywhere‚ but especially at Newlands.”
They conceded their first points‚ including four tries in their last-gasp win over the Lions at Ellis Park last weekend, but they will return to Newlands emboldened.
The Stormers made the running for much of the game only to be forced to conjure some magic off the last move of the game to get the job done. Petersen‚ though‚ was never in doubt.
“I didn’t get the sense at all that we were going to lose that game, even in the 79th minute. We had one opportunity with that last scrum‚” he said.
“Everyone knew what to do. Composure and keeping a cool head makes you see a lot more. It makes you aware of what is around you a lot more.”
Petersen explained that self-belief stems partly from the input of their mental coach Tom Dawson.
“He was involved in that iconic win Ikeys had against Pukke in the Varsity Cup a few years ago.
“He has one on ones with us. If the back three feels they need a session then we have one. He also does groups. We even go with personal problems. We are close knit. We want to play for each other and we want to win with each other.”
Assistant coach Dawie Snyman also believes the Stormers will benefit greatly from the experience they gained at Ellis Park.
“The first three games were almost about trying to survive and get the result. Now we want to step up after having good game time. We also want to keep combinations the same.”
He too believes the Jaguares will require the Stormers to dig deep.
“They put up a good performance against the Lions first up and against the Hurricanes they were in it. They lost it in the last minute. They are a tough side.
“They were second last year. Against the Reds they scored four or five mauling tries. It is going to be a Test match.”
Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies and flank Jaco Coetzee will return to action this week, but tighthead prop Wilco Louw‚ who sprained an ankle against the Lions‚ will have his fitness tested on Thursday.