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South African Super Rugby Franchises

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Jaco TauteSpringbok utility back Gio Aplon believes the arrival of Elton Jantjies and Jaco Taute will give the star-studded Stormers backline a newfound attacking zest in this year’s Super Rugby tournament.

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The young, dynamic duo, who made their Springbok debuts last year, have linked up with the Stormers for the 2013 Super Rugby campaign on loan from the

Johannesburg-based Lions, who will make way for the Southern Kings this season.
The arrival of the Lions pair further bolsters a Springbok-laden Stormers back division that includes Aplon, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Juan de Jongh and Peter Grant.

However, despite possessing arguably the best backline in Super Rugby on paper, collectively the big-name contingent failed to fire in recent seasons and last year scored just 28 tries, the least of any team in 2012.

While their resolute defence still led them to a second successive South African Conference title and home semifinal, their lack of synergic and creativity in the backline – especially considering the world-class talent at their disposal – have been a source of frustration for the team’s supporters in recent years.

Jantjies and Taute share an appetite for attacking rugby and are two of the most exciting youngsters in South Africa. Aplon said their arrival will not only give the Stormers an attacking edge but will also give the backline a potent mix of youth and experience.

Aplon expects the duo will play key roles for the Stormers but feels Toulon-bound Bryan Habana will be the heartbeat of the backline.

“The experience that Bryan [Habana] brings and how he played last year was fantastic, so I think we are going to need that this year,” said Aplon.

“But also with Jaco [Taute] adding to the back three and having Joe [Pietersen] and Gerhard [Van den Heever] who are also playing good rugby. I think we have a good balance of youth and experience along with the energy that Jaco is bringing to us so I am really looking forward to that.”

Aplon anticipates a strong final season from Habana before he joins the French club and feels Habana’s hunger to end his Stormers stint with a Super Rugby winner’s medal will bode well for the squad.

“I think Bryan is a team man and he will always give his best before he leaves so I think we can just feed off that and the experience that he brings to the team,” he said.

At 30 years of age, Aplon is second only to Springbok captain De Villiers as the oldest back in the squad. Far from feeling threatened by the new signings, Aplon believes their presence will bring out the best in the veteran backs.

“I think competition is good and competition is always healthy, I think that is what takes you to the next level of your game and keeps you on your toes,” said Aplon.

“I think the only niggle I have got now is the age that is getting on my back, but I think keeping up with the youngsters and the energy they bring in, that is the next challenge.

“Obviously I have been in the game for a while but it is good to challenge yourself to raise your standards and even go better, that is the next level of where you are at.”

7 Responses to Super Rugby: Stormers backline a potent cocktail

  • 1

    They look good on paper but on grass we have a prop standing on the flyhalf spot flinging out reverse torpedo passes

  • 2

    @ Bliksem:
    That’s called “prophalf”

    Way ahead of his time is our Brok,

    History will proclaim him a visionary and a genius.
    Happy

  • 3

    Call him what you want by I call him a poephol who should with the pack trying to secure the ball

  • 4

    All teams have their nemesis and weak points and want to improve on it, don’t think for one bit us, the armchair supporter, are the only ones that sees it.

    Stormers – To play more attacking rugby again, they got in a dynamic fly half and fullback to assist is the mind change, see changes at scrumhalf, they want to do it
    for their supporters as well and know this is the one thing that is keeping the silverware from them.

    Bulls – Took everyone by surprise last year after loosing a massive amount of experience, most thought it would take them 3 years to recover and they nearly went all the way,
    They want those young guns to mature and perform this year and become leaders to keep things together when the going gets tough.

    Sharks – Have everything they need but desperate for a better start to the championship, they cannot afford to play catch up rugby again all season long. They have a
    brilliant 10-12 combination in 2013 and a scary good pack, need to work on winning all their home games.

    Cheetahs – First time in like forever they look really competitive and have some depth. They have fit world class players amongst them but
    need a change in attitude towards a balanced game to compete consistently at this level. May the Smith’s and Goosen’s carry them without major injuries.

    Kings – nothing to say

    So all teams have that hurdle or two they need to overcome to be better, let’s wish them well from a SA perspective.
    SA teams look better that ever in 2013, give them all a fair chance and we should try not to dwell to much on the past, this is 2013, embrace it.

  • 5

    Sharks backline is just as potent.

    Who wrote that article on Rugby365? So whoever it was is saying that Stormers have the “Best backline arguably in Super Rugby on paper” so he is saying, better than any of the New Zealand teams and ours here as well? REALLY? Pondering

    Look their backline is top class I agreee, but not sure if they have the BEST out of the whole of the S15 teams. Sharks I feel have better centres so we kinda pip them there.

  • 6

    4 @ Gena_ZA:
    Good post, well said.

  • 7

    4 @ Gena_ZA:
    We won all our homes games last year except one, we lost to the Chiefs by a few points, but picked up a bonus losing point. We should have won that game that day I felt we played the better rugby. Chiefs too was only winning my one point until the hooter and caught the players off guard and went on to score a try there. Otherwise we were camped for a long, long time in that game on their line and should have scored there, somehow we never. Good tough game though from both sides. Only time I saw SBW have a complete shocker of a game.

    Agree though even losing one game with a bonus point can count against my team, we need to win all our games.


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