Groom or Ward to Stormers?

Imagining a world where Super Rugby was professional enough for teams to negotiate trades, the AOR team debates which player swap is most needed in the SA Conference.

Tank Lanning: Nic Groom for Juarno Augustus

It’s just plain weird seeing “Groomie” in red and white … The man is a Cape Town boy through and through, and should be plying his trade in the Western Cape, especially with John Dobson taking the reigns next year.

The two go way back to Varsity Cup days where they formed a lethal combination at UCT. And while depth is key, it also seems a bit silly for Springbok scrummie Ross Cronje to be warming the bench or rotating with Groom at Ellis Park. Both should be regular starters. The Stormers have not settled on a permanent 9 since the departure of Groom, and with Louis Schreuder and Dewaldt Duvenage also recent departures, the move back to Cape Town for Groom looks a natural one.

This while Stormers coach Rob Fleck seems reluctant to play a bruiser at 8 (Jaco Coetzee only came into Saturday’s team that took on the Sharks in Durban after Sikhumbuzo Notshe was a late withdrawal), which is tough to fathom given the key role Coetzee played in a side that eventually bullied the Sharks into submission in an ugly affair.

Even if Fleck changes tack regarding his selection at 8th man, Coetzee is seemingly ahead of Augustus in that race. And while everyone and his pug might be raving about Hacjivah Dayimani, he is a spectator when it comes to the donkey work. And with ball-hawks Marnus Schoeman and Kwagga Smith making a nuisance of themselves at the breakdown, the Lions would do well to have Augustus in the mix as an abrasive ball-carrier to replace what the injured Cyle Brink used to bring to the table.

Zelím Nel – Jeremy Ward for Dan du Plessis

Getting a pro contract is the dream of schoolboy players who have Rugby World Cup aspirations. The second step on the journey is almost as difficult – getting the game time needed to continue developing.

Both Jeremy Ward (23) and Dan du Plessis (turns 24 later this month) are products of traditional rugby schools who featured for the Junior Boks, were tipped to ‘go all the way’ and spent most of 2018 on the injury list. And now their ETA is TBA because they’re stuck in a holding pattern waiting for Springboks to clear the runway.

At the Sharks, Ward is taking notes from Lukhanyo Am – the six-Test playmaker locked in a duel with Bulls counterpart Jesse Kriel for rights to the green 13 jersey. Du Plessis is serving his apprenticeship under the incumbent Bok inside centre, Damian de Allende (37 caps).

Heading into Round 4, Ward and Du Plessis are each averaging less than half an hour of action per match, and that’s why it makes sense to lock in this trade.

Du Plessis has had to moonlight at outside centre where former Blitzboks ace Ruhan Nel is auditioning as a Super Rugby rookie. A move to Cape Town would give Ward a reasonable shot at winning a starting gig while sparking a position battle that would benefit all concerned.

Andre Esterhuizen looks like Tarzan but plays like he’s got the body of Cory Jane – SA’s biggest inside centre prefers playing the piano to moving it. Du Plessis (1.87m, 97kg) can’t match Esterhuizen for size, but there’s no contest on the skills front.

If the Sharks are looking for an all-rounder at 12, it wouldn’t be long before Du Plessis partnered Am in a potent, multi-threat midfield combination.

You’ve read what they think, now let us know where you stand in The Big Debate!

- Big Debate

Let's chat

  • TheInfamousKong

    Ward is currently playing at 12 for the Sharks, coming off the bench for Esterhuizen.
    Imo he is the form 12 in the country.

    • Barry

      As good as he has been at 12, I think his preferred position is 13. They are using him at cover at present, because the best is still to come!

      Marius Louw is currently injured, BUT he’ll be back soon, then we can talk about best 12 in the country.

      As the competition unfolds I am sure we will see enforced resting for Am & Esteehuizen, so Louw & Ward will be a bit too busy to help out Province! Sides they get paid at the Sharks!

  • Herman Schroder?

    What’s most needed is not a swap of players, unless you want to reinforce the Stormers for some reason, but of coaches. Both Fleck and Robert Du Preez need to be swapped for real coaches. Spending the rest of this season watching these guys infect the ‘Boks’ under their watch will do nothing for Rassie’s WC campaign in the long run.

    I am now resigned to the fact that Dom Krag will be the go to option for the WC and that the game plan so unsuccessful for the Boks since 2009 will regrettably continue until then. A failure to win the RC and the WC this year will effectively complete a DECADE ( 10 Long Years ) of non achievement on the international front which by anyone’s standards ( especially for the once proud Bok jersey ) is nothing short of abysmal. That trophy cabinet must be the emptiest it’s ever been and they probably can’t find the keys anymore, lol.

    And for those who say the rugby world is returning to ‘dom krag’ just remember the overseas coaches and players are much more skillful and smarter than our lot so they will most probably do it better than us anyway. SR and the RC should provide us with a few answers before the WC. What can we come up with that’s different ? Cheers.

    • Barry

      I guess you do this just to be annoying or to get a rise from the forum, or is it that you just don’t think it through before you push the comment button?

      On the Coaching front, Du Preez is not the top of my list, but he’s managed to get his team to second on the log and has made play off’s for past three years. Du Bruin didnt show enough to progress at the Sharks and eventually had to move on – your team sits third from last – able to follow thus far?

      If our players are so unskilled, then why is it that we have a mass out flow- almost as many Pro SAFFA’s overseas as there are locally with the cut backs!

      • Herman Schroder?

        Barry has it ever crossed your mind that I repeat myself so much is because nothing changes in this failed sport of ours ? I’ve been preaching this since 2014 and we are still in the doldrums.
        Accepting mediocrity has never been my strong suit and our rugby has been just that for nearly a decade now which obviously was my point.

        Nothing has changed this year so far with the same people in charge ( including Rassie ) who have achieved nothing and the only thing that gives cause for some to ‘celebrate’ is the supposed demise of the Lions. How sad is that. The inconsistency of all our sides this year after three rounds has already reared it’s ugly head but hey lets just get on with it as if all is ok.

        Give me something to be positive about and I will be the greatest Bok supporter around. Maybe I’m frustrated because I’ve lived through the hey day of Bok rugby where the jersey was everything and players played for their country and not their bank accounts or hairdo’s on the big screen. Until then I will continue to call out those in power who are sullying our great game. Cheers.

        • SweetAz

          If accepting mediocrity is not your strong suit then why do you keep on churning out mediocre, ill thought out contradictory garbage? No sir, you are living proof we are living in an age of incompetence. Mediocre is something you aspire too, you haven’t quite achieved it yet and that’s why you keep repeating yourself hoping practice will make perfect. I have bad news for you, its well known amongst musicians that you don’t practice “mistakes” because they become learned habits. You have contributed the same shyte for so long now that its become habit for you, you don’t know anything else other than the shyte you have been repeating to yourself since at least 2014.

    • John Comyn

      Put a sock in it Herman!

      • Herman Schroder?

        John, please read my response to Barry above. Sincerely Yours, Herman. Cheers.

    • Albert

      I am now convinced that Herman Schrodinger is in actual fact a Russian bot, sent here to cause disharmony amongst the South African rugby public. All these comments are very very similar, with the same terminology used over and over again. I for one will no longer be drawn into this game by said Russian bot, no sir.

      • Herman Schroder?

        Albert starting to repeat yourself old chap, you must have caught the Schrodinger virus. See my response to Barry above, Thanks and Cheers.

      • SweetAz

        Why do you think he irritates me so much? Its been the same crap over and over for years now on this forum and others, he may as well just copy and paste from one article to the next, not an original thought in his head. He’s like those people addicted to a particular ideology or political party, they just spew the same ideas (thought up by someone else) over and over, it’s so predictable and boring because you know what they are going to say before they say it. He has absolutely no clue as to the finer nuances that are happening right in front of his eyes, if he doesn’t see an offload or “running/expansive” rugby then it must be domkrag. But I agree with you, it’s probably best to just ignore him, unfortunately, the internet doesn’t allow you to give someone a PK remotely.

        • Herman Schroder?

          Oh poor SweetAz before you read this go to the ‘Lions fail’ site and my response to you there. You made an utter fool of yourself old chap.

          The only thing predictable here is your continued hanging on my every word and insulting me. No problem old chap, I’ve outdistanced many similar to you most of whom were far more intelligent than you and I’ve lived to tell the tale.

          A bit of a change from you though is due to your frustration at not being able to ‘best’ me you now seem to want to resort to ‘violence’ as a counter measure. News flash old chap, you’ve lost the ‘battle’ right there.

          As I’ve requested the other ‘Schrodinger’ club members to do, please read my response to Barry above. Cheers.

          • SweetAz

            Has it ever occurred to you that when a bunch of people disagree with you the fault may be on YOUR side? You are like that one troepie we had at passing out parade whose mother shrilly exclaimed, ” Kyk my seun Koos, hy is die enigste een wat in pas is”

        • Wesley

          “they just spew the same ideas (thought up by someone else) over and over, it’s so predictable and boring because you know what they are going to say before they say it.”

          Hmmm, where have I seen this same behavior before?

          • Wesley

            Hahaha oh how I love this comments forum!

          • SweetAz

            Every morning in the mirror you communist clown

  • Albert

    I agree with both here. Dan Du Plessis and Jarno Augustus are being wasted at the Stormers. Fleck has no clue and I am frankly shocked that Augustus, the closest thing we have to Vermeulen, is either benched or not even in the squad. Notshe is a bench player at best, he can come on and increase the pace in the last 20min and Coetzee needs to be starting openside or at least replace Kolisi in the last 20.

    Dan Du Plessis is a skilful and smart player but just needs to be trusted. What are the Stormers brains trust even doing? They purchase Dan Kriel and have Dan Du Plessis yet they focus on De Allende and Nel as their centre pairing.

    Switch all the above players and get new coaching teams while they are at it. Hopefully Dobson can improve the sorry lot.

    • John Comyn

      What makes you think Dobbo is the answer? He’s very much part of the current setup and has been for a while. No coach on planet earth can coach this side under the regime we call WP rugby. Not Rassie Erasmus, Eddie Jones, John Mitchell or anyone else. I guarantee Eddie would have been out of here in his 1st season. Rassie couldn’t handle the BS nor would Jones or Mitchell.

      • Barry

        Oh John don’t be so common! Dobson came close to winning back to back Currie Cup’s and he did that under the same poor administration as Fleck has.

        Dobson is a great coach and does his talking on the field,

      • Albert

        I Agree wholeheartedly. However, Dobbo is far more astute than Fleckie. Now I may eat my words, but he couldn’t possibly be worse could he? Could he?!?

        • SweetAz

          If you have been following what’s happening in Province Rugby you will see that the Treu faction have got their wishes, Smal is gone, Fleck will be gone soon and the Supersport Rugby Challenge Coaching Team looks like a get together of the Mitchells Plain old boys club— Jerome Paarwater has been appointed as the new Western Province Head Coach for the SuperSport Rugby Challenge and will be supported by Nazeem Adams (Assistant Coach – Backs), Rito Hlungwani (Assistant Coach – Forwards), Chris October (Defence Coach), Naasier Parker (Strength and Conditioning Coach), Elliot Hanabe (Technical Analyst) and Team Manager Cassiem Barnes.

          Treu seems to have landed with his arse in the butter as the new Performance and Innovation Manager. So the more things change the more they stay the same.

          So NO, I don’t think Dobbo will be much better than Fleck, he has too much weight on his back, you can only carry so much then you fall on your face.

          • SweetAz

            Barry, results in Currie Cup is not the same as Super Rugby, the players are at a much more amateur level and are less mobile as far as employment opportunities go. Super Rugby is the pinnacle in SA and without a few MOTIVATED marquee players, success is not likely. And therein lies Dobson’s problem, he will lose almost all of his marquee players next year, mostly due to incompetent, inept and bankrupt management. I’ll give Dobson a chance but he will have to deal with the same shambolic administration.
            As we know in a team sport, cohesion is the key followed closely by an intangible thing called “gees”,—the Bulls seem to have regained the latter. The Stormers don’t have it consistently and with the kind of player turnover anticipated are unlikely to get it.

            Their only saving grace is that it seems ALL the SAFFA teams are destined to lose the bulk of their tier one players after the RWC,—-which will only result in an increased output of lamenting from the “domkrag” man confusing player loss with skills decline.

          • Barry

            Yes, but you chaps go on about this conspiracy and whilst a big chunk of it is probably correct, it doesn’t explain how Dobson got results, with far less resources than Fleck has managed, both under the same administration?

            The other issue is why has it taken Smal four seasons to realize that Fleck is the wrong guy for the job?

            If you should be annoyed with anyone it’s these two who have let the side down allowing other factions to come to the fore, through their consistent none performance and slack management!

  • SweetAz

    I would trade De Allende with anyone in any team, even the waterboy. Seriously, I know some people rate him and for the life of me I can’t see why. I would even take anyone in the Kings backline in exchange.
    He makes everything he does look much more difficult than it should be, really, he sucks the joy out of rugby. It’s like he has to concentrate very hard to figure out what’s going on and then seemingly loses control of his body. He’s like a white guy trying to rap, he’s just got no natural rhythm for rugby.

    You see a guy like Carel Du Plessis, Danie Gerber, Christian Cullen running with the ball and you just KNOW they will find a gap, it looks like poetry in motion. When De Allende gets the ball I just want to cover my eyes to spare them the pain.

    • Barry

      He had a major injury a few seasons back and has never been quite the same again, but sorry to say there has not been any progress of recent. Regardless, I suspect he will make the Japan cut!

    • Andre

      Blame coaches for the way he plays , he started at Province as a winger , you think he was born and bred as a crash ball runner with no intention to pass? Same goes for Wynand Olivier.

    • Albert

      I used to be a big De Allende fan when he first came onto the scene. He had so much potential and at the time looked to be the answer to an ageing Jean De Villiers. But then he had Allister Coetzee as coach, who trained him to be nothing but tuck the ball under the arm and run into people. Since then, he has gone bakwards rapidly. Sure he is big and strong but like Esterhuizen that means nought if you can’t use it.

  • Wesley

    Have to agree with Juarno for Nic, we need some big grunt in the backrow at the Lions, and although Marnus is making some statements and Dayimani an athletic inclusion, does not cover the loss of the grunt work the locks (Mostert and Ferreira) were doing. The loss of Erasmus & Brink also put some damper on the experience grunt factor.

    We now have 2 senior scrumhalves, and a promising young gun Dillon Smit at scrumhalf. Why keep all three and with most of the time two good talents warming benches? I have the same problem coming to terms with Papier and van Zyl at the Bulls. There is a rotational opportunity on national level, but obviously the unions are holding their own interests as more important.

  • John Comyn

    Disappointed Tank – why trade the the best thing since Duane Vermeulen for anyone? Sure we need a scrumhalf and Groom may be the answer but find someone else for crying out loud. Why are you saying Fleckie is reluctant to play him. As far as I can understand the bloke came off the bench after an injury and was probably not ready to start. There is still a lot of rugby to be played before the Crusaders collect the trophy.

  • albert Hoffmann

    “t’s just plain weird seeing “Groomie” in red and white … The man is a Cape Town boy through and through, and should be plying his trade in the Western Cape, especially with John Dobson taking the reigns next year.”
    Please take him back, i will even pay for his airfare. He is slow like a tortoise and suits the boring stormers game perfectly.

    On another note, what a pathetic statement, in a professional era can only joburg boys play for the lions? .

    • Barry

      Not to offend, but I would tend to agree, Lions looked better when Cronje came on, by contrast Groom looked Workman like, but nothing more!

  • Chris Mouton

    I don’t rate Notshe at all. He’s done nothing to impress me, yet. Let Augustus play so that we can see what the kid can do. Funny thing, talking about swapping him for Groom. What about Whiteley then? Are we just going to assume that he’ll be injured for the Lions? Dayimani needs some time to find his niche. Rather let Groom and Augustus stay put for now.

    I rate Jeremy Louw. He has the ability to make the step-up, but it’s good that he’s coming off the bench at the moment. Rather play Du Plessis instead of Nel. Better yet, sell De Allende to Heynecke Meyer play Du Plessis in his place. The sooner we get rid of Domjan die Ellende, the better.

    • John Comyn

      Agree – Augustus is the real deal.

  • Safmarine

    Groom was far more effective for Northampton than he’s ever been for the Lion’s – another one our 9’s who perform better in the UK (Faf, Reinach, Pienaar etc). I’m with Tank, send him back to the Cape. Cronje is a better option with Elton anyway. I rate this Coetzee for the Stormers – abrasive. Maybe he can be loaned to the Lions, get them some go forward in the back row.

  • Boyo

    Ha ha du plessis wouldnt even make the sharks super sport challenge side.

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