After a tough opening round of the URC in Pretoria, Scarlets head to the Western Cape to take on the DHL Stormers in Stellenbosch on Saturday.
Here’s what head coach Dwayne Peel said to the media during his weekly press conference.
Dwayne, what is the feeling after Sunday’s defeat?
DP: “Obviously, there is disappointment and frustration. A couple of boys had their first taste of URC rugby and would have had their eyes opened with that level of physicality and speed, we know we need to improve this week.
“There were lessons in that game for young and old, but it was one game, people need to recognise that. We need to move on and look to build. We have quality in this group and quality to come back into this group so it is not about hitting the panic button. Yes, it was a nasty defeat but we have to move on and we have another big challenge this week against a Stormers side who have reached the final for the last two years.
“I have played in Scarlets sides when we have lost heavily and gone on to do really good things in the same season. The South African trip is always a tough one and we are here again without a lot of internationals and senior players which we seemed to have done a few times. We will improve and I know we will improve.”
Do you expect a different challenge from the Stormers?
DP: “It will be similar in some ways in terms of when they get on top of you, like the Bulls, they are very physical and keep the gainline. What I would say about the Stormers is that they are very sharp out wide, they want to play expansive rugby and they are razor sharp on turnovers, similar to the Bulls last week. The Stomers are renowned for that, they score a lot of tries from the first three phases, be it from launches or turnovers, that is the challenge, we have to be accurate.
“We had a good game against them last year in Cape Town, we pushed them for 60 minutes and we know there are going to be lot of similar challenges, Evan Roos and, Dayimani are cracking players, we are going to have to keep an eye on those two boys in particular.”
Squad-wise what do you want to take home from this trip?
DP: “The big thing dore us is we are coming away with young boys who have not done much touring before, it is about experiencing the heat, being in a different country. Yes, it is about developing your game and moving forward, but you have to come away from these trips feeling you have bonded and it has definitely helped us in previous years.
“You have to enjoy the experience and this weekend is about how we bounce back. Seeing who has got the resilience to bounce back is going to be interesting from a coaching perspective and that is something we have spoken about.”
Leigh Halfpenny has announced his retirement from international rugby. How do you sum up his career?
DP: “He has been one of the best. What you don’t recognise with Pence is that he is not a big man, but what he has done is command that position. His goal-kicking has been phenomenal, but In terms of genuine full-back play, receiving kicks, pitch coverage, he has been the best I have seen. He is also an obsessive and he will admit that. He puts so much time and effort into his craft, he will be out there for hours. He is a competitor and he has been a fantastic international player – Six Nations titles, Grand Slams, Lions tours, 100 caps, he has been great in a red shirt, I am really pleased for him, Jess and the family.”