Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Super Rugby: Stormers take shot at Chiefs

Frustrated De Villiers promises to put an end to players holding on at the ruck.

Stormers loose forward Schalk Burger enjoys a round of golf at Formosa Golf Resort at Beachlands yesterday. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Stormers loose forward Schalk Burger enjoys a round of golf at Formosa Golf Resort at Beachlands yesterday. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The Chiefs have come under fire for their allegedly illegal tactics ahead of what is likely to be a high-impact encounter against the Stormers tomorrow, but rather than shoot back with his own accusations, assistant coach Andrew Strawbridge conceded ill-discipline has been a problem for his team.

Stormers captain Jean de Villiers has wasted little time in firing the first shots against the defending champions, saying he was frustrated at the Crusaders' tactics of holding on to players at the ruck in his team's 14-13 defeat in Christchurch last weekend and that he was expecting more of the same at Waikato Stadium.

He is vowing to start a dialogue with South African referee Craig Joubert before the match, something he will continue if he doesn't get the desired response.

"I will be in referee Craig Joubert's ear before the game in Hamilton, you can be sure about that, and if it happens like it did in Christchurch I will be on his case during the game as well," De Villiers told SuperSport in South Africa.

"I disagree with the suggestion that there might be a little bit of holding on in Hamilton on Friday. There will be a heck of a lot of holding on."

The most obvious example in Christchurch was Schalk Burger's slapping of Owen Franks' and Sam Whitelock's arms as they held on to the flanker's jersey in the first half, something Rohan Hoffmann penalised them for.

"In Schalk's situation a different referee might have penalised him when he tried to get himself loose," De Villiers said.

"You have two options in situations like that - you leave it to the referee to sort out and if he doesn't then the players have to sort it out themselves. But when the players get left to do something about it there is the potential for everything to get messy so let's just hope that Craig is alert to the tactic and doesn't let it become an issue."

De Villiers' outspoken approach received a cool and considered response from Strawbridge yesterday. The Chiefs last season occasionally had a habit of holding on to players after cleaning out rucks and the assistant coach acknowledged his side had worked hard on their discipline.

"We've had a few issues the last few years at different times of the season with that aspect and we've worked really hard to try to eradicate it from our game," he said. "We want to be pretty aggressive at the breakdown but we don't want to act illegally so we're really putting an emphasis on our discipline this week."

However, he said there would not be any pressure on captain Aaron Cruden to become more vocal with Joubert should De Villiers follow through with his threat.

Tom Marshall, back from a thumb injury, will debut for the Chiefs at second-five, with Gareth Anscombe returning from shoulder surgery to play at fullback.

Midfielder Robbie Fruean is on the reserves bench.

- APNZ

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