As far as Vodacom Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe is concerned, the real Super 14 starts this Saturday when his team host the Waratahs at what is expected to be a packed Newlands.
While a lot of critics made the Cats favourites for the Super 14 opener against the Stormers in Johannesburg last weekend, Van der Merwe and his men were never under any doubt that their Ellis Park opponents would be a lot less formidable than what is still to come.
So much so that Van der Merwe now admits that the Cats fixture was viewed by he and his management as another warm-up game.
â€œWe were quite fortunate to have the Cats as our first opponents,â€ said Van der Merwe in looking back at his teamâ€™s opening match.
â€œI took the decision to not play too many preparation games, and had we been up against a side like the Crusaders or the Waratahs first up, we might have found we were off the pace and we could have been in trouble.
â€œBut we were playing the Cats in Joburg, so that meant less pressure, and it enabled us to almost get in an extra warm-up fixture. We were not perfect against the Cats, but the match would have helped us pick up match fitness and sharpness, and that will hopefully serve us well against the Waratahs. It was as if the Cats game was an additional warm-up game.â€
Van der Merwe knows that the Waratahs, as last yearâ€™s beaten finalists, will provide his men with an acid test as they go out to prove to the Cape public that they have indeed turned the corner.
â€œThe Waratahs are a strong team and we must start as underdogs in this one. They have a strong tight five, one of the best in the competition, so that will be a test of that aspect of our game, which was pleasing at Ellis Park.
â€œItâ€™s funny how quickly things change. A week ago everyone was saying our forwards were not up to it, now everyone thinks we have cracked it. In reality we will know a lot more once we have played the Waratahs. They have very good lineout forwards, compete very well, and are probably in this regard among the best in the competition.
â€œSo it will be a big challenge for Andries Bekker and Ross Skeate. Their backs are also going to test our backs, particularly the new guys. We all know what Wendell Sailor is capable of, and Lote Tuqiri and Morgan Turinui as well. For Ryno Benjamin and Jongi Nokwe, this is going to be a massive challenge.â€[/b]
Talk about being cocky, what a prick! Watch Sailor run over Nokwe a couple off times this weekend.