Britz adds the bulk

Gerrie Britz’s recall to the Stormers tight five may just be the tonic the embattled unit requires.

With Selborne Boome languishing in the curtain-raiser for Friday’s game and Ross Skeate out with a foot injury, the Bok lock and flanker has emerged as a key starter for the Stormers when they front up to the Force in Cape Town.

Britz had a resurgent Currie Cup last year, forming part of a pack that mauled the fabled forwards of the Blue Bulls twice. At flank for Western Province, he scored two tries in the semi-final against the Blue Bulls again.

This earned him a recall to the Bok side, and Britz earned a cap in the Twickenham defeat of England on the end-of-year tour.

But the beginning of 2007 saw Britz not even able to find a spot on the bench in round one of the Super 14. But Britz was not too perturbed. He was biding his time.

“I had a good year last year and it was great to be able to play most of the games.

“Kobus had already spoken to us about the fact that we would all have to rotate this year. We have a big squad and I knew I would get my chance.

“In fact, I am enjoying the competition amongst the locks.”

As a Springbok lock and flank, to be excluded from the squad and then to see your forward pack crumble must have been a bitter pill to swallow. His inclusion in the line-up for Friday’s game will see him eager to vindicate the recall.

At a press conference on Thursday, Britz was asked the question of whether he was up to the task of adding the missing physical edge to the Stormers tight five.

The answer was simple – “Yes”.

There is a steely resoluteness in Britz which a team filled with game-breakers requires urgently.

“We have got to go back to the basics,” Britz says.

“Being a forward means providing the backs with good ball on the front foot.

“That’s what we did in the Currie Cup and look how Gio Aplon and Joe Pietersen shined out wide.”

Britz confirms that much of the focus in training this week has been on the first phase ball, including the re-starts. He also highlights how crucial it is for the Stormers to maintain possession once they have won it.”

“At this level if you give the ball away you can expect it back in ten minutes.”

Of the prospects of playing for the Springboks in World Cup year, Britz refuses to speculate.

“I can’t think ahead. I have not even been playing for the Stormers how can I think of playing for the Boks? My aim is to play good rugby in the Super 14 and then the rest could follow.”

By Chris Waldburger

365 Digital

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