Fourie's a jolly good fellow for Stormers
STORMERS hooker Deon Fourie justified coach Allister Coetzee's decision to play him at No8 against the Melbourne Rebels at the weekend with a man-of-the-match performance.
His showing has gone some way to solving the loose forward problem for the Cape Town side.
The 26-21 win over the Rebels took the Stormers to the top of the overall Super 15 standings. They will now take on either the Crusaders or the Bulls in the semifinal at Newlands in a fortnight.
With Schalk Burger, Nick Koster, Duane Vermeulen, Nizaam Carr and Jebb Sinclair unavailable because of injury or ineligibility, Fourie needed to show that he is comfortable at eighthman. And he did so emphatically.
"Deon has a good skills set and he showed that he can adapt to playing No8," Coetzee said. "He also surprised many people by taking line-out ball, which I always knew he was capable of doing."
The Stormers tried using openside Siya Kolisi at eighthman a few weeks ago but the experiment didn't work and, though it remains an option, Fourie appears to have cemented his place at the back of the scrum for now.
"We had to look at other eighthman options in addition to Siya," Coetzee said. "We have that now with Deon, which gives us some breathing space."
Fourie said: "After two phases the number on your back becomes irrelevant but I did enjoy having a little more freedom to move about the field."
Though the Stormers were well below their best against the Rebels, Coetzee was happy with their ability to score when needed.
The Cape side ran into a 16-0 lead in the first 20 minutes and looked set for a big win but the Rebels pulled to within two points of the lead with two tries in the space of four second-half minutes.
"When our backs were up against the wall after the Rebels scored their second try, what pleased me was that we had the ability to lift our game and score another try, even though it was against the run of play," Coetzee said.
"It is frustrating that we didn't produce that kind of intensity for longer periods and I felt we didn't have the necessary energy throughout the whole game.
"The players definitely weren't at their usual high mental standard but that focus will definitely be back for the semifinal."
The Bulls travel to Christchurch to meet the Crusaders next week. They have never won at the Crusaders' home so the odds are that the Stormers will meet the New Zealanders in a Newlands semifinal for the second year running.
Last year the Crusaders beat the Stormers 29-10 to reach the final and they won't see coming to Cape Town as a daunting prospect. They are also one of only two teams to beat the Stormers this year.