CAPE TOWN – The Stormers coaching staff won't be the only ones who want to see a better scrummaging performance from the team's all-Springbok front row tomorrow.
John Dobson's side's scrum has been one of their strengths, and while they continued to come out on top at the set-piece in both their Rainbow Cup defeats to the Sharks and more convincingly against the Bulls, they couldn't make one of their most lethal weapons fire in their 39-37 defeat to the Lions in Joburg.
This week, though, they need to step it up against the Sharks, especially considering that they didn't completely trample the Durbanites when they packed down in Round One. Add to that Ox Nche and Thomas du Toit's efforts in the first two rounds, and it becomes even more vital that we see the Capetonians produce an improved outing at the scrums at Kings Park (kick-off 1pm).
Granted, the Bulls dominated the Sharks at the scrum battle last week, but the Stormers need no reminding that every team can have an off day. Against the Lions, the fact that there were few scrums in the game wasn't in the visitors' favour, with the first one only coming early in the second quarter. On paper, though, the Stormers should back themselves a little more to have the upper hand in that department this week given the return of some quality individuals.
Further than the Stormers' cause is how important the form of the Stormers' Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe is to Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber ahead of the much-anticipated British & Irish Lions Series.
Of course, the performances of the other front-rowers in the Springbok frame are also important, after all, anything can happen and you can't just hope for your first-choice guys to be at their best.
It's a team effort, after all. But what the Stormers trio dish up this weekend and in the games to follow certainly carries more weight.
While the Sharks' pack by no means lacks in beef, the Stormers have welcomed back locks JD Schickerling and Marvin Orie after the second-row duo returned from an ankle injury and concussion respectively, and it's one factor that will no doubt have the Capetonians armed with a bit more optimism when getting ready for the shove.
Add Pieter-Steph du Toit, who was rested last week, to the forward mix, and their near full-strength pack should be one confident that the scrum, and overall battles up front and in the physical exchanges, should go the Stormers' way.