Israel Folau explains why he’s sticking with rugby union

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Super Rugby Playoffs – Saturday and Sunday (fixtures)

20 July Crusaders v Reds AMI Stadium, Addington Christchurch 09:35 CAT (08:35 BST)
21 July Brumbies v Cheetahs Canberra Stadium, Canberra 08:10 CAT (07:10 BST)

Why have the two SA favourites failed?

There are probably many reasons why the Stormers and the Sharks haven’t managed to put together a string of impressive performances in this year. The fact is, the season is already over for them, which is unacceptable. The fans demand results, something’s got to change.RW Stamp

The Currie Cup finalists of 2012 went into the 2013 season with high expectations, especially with the Stormers flirting with Super Rugby glory over the past few years. Instead, both teams have stuttered to 10th (Sharks) and 11th (Stormers) place after 14 rounds. Only the Kings lie below them on the South African conference table. From having 3 sides represent South Africa in the overall top 6 last year, it seems we’re destined to send the Bulls unaccompanied into play-offs this year.

Injuries and a tough fixture list have undoubtedly played a huge role in the dismal campaign of both teams. While the Stormers had a tough start to the competition, the Sharks growing injury list has outgrown every team this year. You could basically form a decent starting XV with their injured players at the moment. Injuries are uncontrollable, but tweaking a game plan and shifting playing mentality are possible solutions to a flailing season. Maybe it’s time to inject some youthful exuberance into the match day 22 – after all, the season can’t get any worse.

I don’t think a change in Stormer’s management is needed, nor is it time to hit the panic stations. Western Province won the Currie Cup with a bunch of youthful players hungry for success. Maybe, instead of bringing in players from outside the WPRU Union (Jebb Sinclair, Schalk Brits and now Marius Coetzer), investment should be made in unleashing our own fresh talent.

The Sharks and Stormers are back at home now. It goes without saying they both need to finish strong to keep the hordes of naysayers at bay.

TVA

Super Rugby News: Andries Bekker out for 6 – 8 weeks (and a host of other injuries)

Andries Bekker joins De Kock Steenkamp and Rynhardt Elstadt on the Stormers second row injury list, which has necessitated a call up for veteran lock Marius Coetzer to join up with the men from Cape Town.Rugby Injury

“He is an experienced player who has played more than 100 first class games and we are going to need him because we already have our reserve lock playing on Saturday now,” said Stormers’ coach Alistair Coetzee.

But when it rains it pours as Deon Fourie (broken ribs), Frans Malherbe (torn ankle ligament) and Pat Cilliers (ankle injury) have also been ruled out for extended periods of time.

“Frans flew home with the injury from Australia without knowing about it. We have only picked it up since we returned. He will be out for at least 10 weeks as he gets operated on tomorrow (Wednesday),” said Coetzee after a Stormers training session on Tuesday.

“As you know, Andries has had problems with his back in the past. This time though it is a disc in the lower part of his back that is giving him trouble. He will be out for a minimum of six weeks. These injuries are all massive complications for us as it disrupts continuity and we have several new combinations playing for us now, but at the same time new players bring energy and we felt it in training this afternoon.”

Other players who did not train Tuesday include Juan de Jongh and Scarra Ntubeni.

The only good news the Stormers  received is that Tiaan Liebenberg is eventually back from a long injury layoff.

“Tiaan brings experience and it was good to hear his voice again at training today,” said Coetzee.

If the Stormers win another game this season they will be pretty lucky. Expect serious damage control in their remaining matches, but going into their shell could be the last thing they need.

SGR