Stormers not feeling the pressure ahead of Zebre clash | The Citizen

The Stormers aren’t feeling the pressure ahead of their first away game of the season as they take on Zebre in a United Rugby Championship (URC) match at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 4pm).

The Stormers have started the defence of their URC title in solid fashion, with two bonus point wins over Connacht and Edinburgh at home, but now face a new challenge with a three match European tour with them also taking on Ospreys and Cardiff.

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With fellow South African teams having started their away campaigns well, with both the Lions and Sharks picking up two wins a piece on the road, Stormers assistant coach Norman Laker was asked if that would put any pressure on the team to perform.

“It doesn’t put pressure on us as a team because there are certain goals we want to achieve in the next three games ahead of us,” explained Laker.

“There were a few things we didn’t get right on Saturday against Edinburgh and we need to get them right for this weekend against Zebre.

“Last year’s tour was a great learning curve for the players and management having played in Super Rugby for years and then switching to the north, it was slightly different in terms of refereeing and playing style. So we will take our learnings and not make the same mistakes we made last year.”

Whipping boys

Coming up against Zebre, who finished last season rock bottom of the log, and seen by many as the whipping boys of the competition, some impressive performances from them so far this season indicate that they won’t be the push overs that they once were.

“They are a decent team. They have a new attack coach, Dave Williams, who used to be at the Sharks. So it’s a South African guy coaching their attack,” said Laker.

“They did very well against Leinster, they came close against the Sharks and could have taken that game. They also have new personnel player wise. So they are a good team and well coached team and we are looking forward to the game.”

Despite having started the competition with a perfect haul of 10 points, including a solid win over Edinburgh last time out, Laker believes the team still has a long way to go.

“I know we got the five points against Edinburgh but it’s still early days. That was just our second game of the season,” said Laker.

“There are a few things we picked up after that game that we have to improve. We have to improve on certain aspects of the game so we are focusing on ourselves, so that we are as prepared as we can be for whatever they throw at us.”

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