The Stormers forward coach Rito Hlungwani said that if the Sale Sharks do not come to Cape Town with their first-choice team, according to rumours, it will be disappointing, however, it will make no difference to the Stormers’ preparations.
Hlungwani was not too concerned about the extra intelligence that former Stormers players will bring to the Sale Sharks about this week’s opponents.
“Yes, they will have some intel on how we work, but I think how we play is really clear anyway, we play every weekend and don’t change much,” he said.
The Sale Sharks pack boasts some familiar faces like Ernst van Rhyn, Cobus Wiese and brothers Jean-Luc and Dan Du Preez, who might run out for the must-win Pool Four encounter.
“Their intel would be the same as what La Rochelle had before they played against us. It will be nice to see Ernst and Cobus, two players I know well. It is going to be fun to coach against them.”
“As much as Van Rhyn and Wiese know the Stomers, we also know them well. So, the intel they have is the same as any other team would have.”
“Regardless of who is going to play, our main focus, from a preparation point of view, will be to look at how they play, how they contest the line-outs and how their systems are run."
“We studied them well. They are a good scrumming outfit. It is going to be a battle."
“They have conceded a couple of scrum penalties during the Premiership but it’s something they have adjusted and improved."
“We know they are going to come for us, but we will be ready.”
Hlungwani also highlighted the players’ willingness to learn from each other as the main reason why the DHL Stormers' scrums remain one of their best-attacking weapons despite the loss of top players.
“A guy like Neethling Fouche has been scrumming against Kitshoff in training, and Ali Vermaak scrums against Malherbe, so you can only get better and it’s the only way to train."
“The way we train our scrums is maybe, even more, tougher than a game.
“It is congested because we train everything in a space of 20 minutes, scrum, run a bit and scrum again. We probably go through 10 to 12 scrums."
“It’s brutal, aggressive and we learn from each other in the midst of it. When the guys scrum against each other, they usually give each other advice, and it’s part of the scrum culture we created which is quite handy.”
“The back five are needed for the good scrum and they rarely get the credit,” Hlungwani added.
“However on Mondays, Neethling usually thank the back five for the power. So it’s quite a collective thing and everyone is passionate about it."
“We know when we do well, we get scrum penalties, which allows you to attack. It is something we have embraced and it is strongly driven by internal competition."
“You have to fight for your place and we are looking to improve every week,” Rito Hlungwani said.
“I always say to the locks, you should able to play like a No.4 lock at the scrums and call the line-outs like a No.5 lock."
“We are moving towards a situation where we are looking for ‘positionless’ players, who operate at No.4 and No.5. And also the loose forwards, Neethling always waits in front of the change rooms to check if the loose trio are wearing long studs and that is how crucial the whole pack is.”
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