Jean de Villiers fancies Stormers making it five in a row
The New Zealand team have yet to win a game in the Mother City
Former Stormers captain Jean de Villiers will never forget the punch he took to the face from Blues centre Rua Tipoki during a Super 12 match at Newlands 15 years ago.
The midfielder, who amassed 105 caps for the Cape franchise, had to leave the field on the half-hour mark with a huge gash to his cheek, but 15 stitches later he returned to the fray only to go off again after another blow to the same area that required re-stitching.
“Ja, I remember the incident, still have the scar. All part of the game,” said De Villiers, who won 109 Test caps for the Springboks, 37 as captain.
Fast-forward to the present and De Villiers will watch his former team, who he feels have not executed as well as they should have in their first four games, do battle again with the Blues in a Super Rugby cross-conference match at Newlands on Saturday (kick-off 3.05pm).
The Auckland-based Blues are yet to win in the Mother City.
Although he feels there is room for improvement, De Villiers’s money is on the unbeaten hosts making it five wins in a row and staying atop the overall standings. But he is not going to talk about a title bid just yet.
“It’s pleasing to see the team operating at 70% and winning. They needed to cash in on their batch of home games, and they have done that to this point,” said De Villiers.
“But now for a tough encounter with a New Zealand rival that back in the day was a top team with outstanding players. That doesn’t mean the current crop are no-hopers. I expect them to make a fist of it like they did in edging the Bulls last weekend.
"And let’s not forget they always get big South African support for whatever reason. But the Stormers, who have attracted big crowds for the previous three home games, have my backing.”
De Villiers does not want to put the mockers on the Cape franchise ending the season in glory.
“There’s always been a lot of positivity around the Stormers before each Super Rugby season and they then go and underperform. But the class of 2020 has the ammunition in all departments to challenge strongly for line honours.
“For me, a player like Damian Willemse is the man who can make it all happen. He just needs to stay in his position more rather than try and do too much on his own.
“We don’t want a flyhalf being tackled multiple times, you want him at his post calling the shots. And his battle with All Black Beauden Barrett, if he’s playing, will be something to savour.”