Newly-appointed Stormers coach Eddie Jones has emphasised the need to have efficient half-backs in the process of building a successful Super Rugby team.
The former Japan coach who has been hailed as one of international rugby’s foremost coaches after the ‘Brave Blossoms’ defeated the Springboks at the World Cup just over a month ago, addressed a packed news conference at Newlands on Thursday.
The Stormers, despite the vast rugby resources in the region, have never won the Super Rugby title and expectations are high among local fans that Jones will lead their side to silverware.
Jones said the scrumhalf (No 9) and flyhalf (No 10) usually determines the side’s playing pattern and if they were young, they’ll need time to assert themselves.
“A team needs a good No 9 and 10 who can make good decisions which will be key to a successful performance,” said Jones. There are all young guys (the half-backs) in this squad and we just have to work with them. There is no short-cut to developing a good No 9 and 10.
“The flyhalf and scrumhalf touch the ball more than anyone and determine what kind of game you play.
“If there is an experienced flyhalf that can be brought in to help in the meantime while the other players are developing, then I will look at that. He would need to be affordable though, and the top guys are really expensive.
“If you want to play attacking rugby you have to have skills like the ability to catch and pass. That is the kind player we want to develop.”
Not unlike new arriving coaches at Newlands over the past two decades, Jones spoke in glowing terms about the traditional attacking styles of Newlands-based teams. However, that tradition has not come to the fore for many years now.
“I am obviously new in this job but if you go back and look at the 125-year history of this prestigious union, you will see that attacking rugby was pretty much the way they played. It was what the fans came to expect,” said Jones.
“The Stormers will be looking to develop a distinctive style that the team will be known for. We want to build a side that will make people excited to come to Newlands. We want to light up Newlands.
“I’d like to see a situation developing where people can’t wait to get tickets for the next match.
“We need a side with a tough set-piece, one that’s uncompromising and one that has its own special flavour.”
Jones said he hasn’t had enough time yet to assess the strengths weaknesses of the squad but he was pleased with what he’s seen after a few days in Cape Town. There was also an opportunity to watch Stormers players in action for the Springboks at the World Cup
“It looks like there are players that can provide the basis for a good scrum, line-out and back row, which has a great depth of exciting talent coming through (the ranks).
“There are solid front-rowers and that tighthead Frans Malherbe is a young player who really did well at the World Cup. He is developing really well. You’ve got Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit pairing up in the second,” said Jones.
“We have the likes of Schalk (Burger) and (Rynhardt) Elstadt in the forwards. We definitely have the players in those areas.”
– African News Agency (ANA)