DHL Stormers coach Robbie Fleck insists his side is not as far behind New Zealand teams as recent results suggest.
The Stormers suffered three heavy defeats on their New Zealand tour, to the Crusaders (57-24), Highlanders (57-14) and Hurricanes (41-22), while conceding a total of 24 tries.
Fleck, though, believes the Stormers are closer to the Kiwis than those scorelines suggest.
'In the past four weeks we played against the top four teams in the tournament and three of those matches were away‚ which puts things into some perspective‚' Fleck said.
'It was a tough tour‚ but our biggest disappointment was our loss to the Lions at home. But we are the only team to beat a New Zealand team this year [the Stormers beat the Chiefs 34-26 in round six].
'On tour we turned over possession 15 times inside the opposition’s 22m area and of those‚ six long distance tries were scored against us. Those are 14-point swings in a game and they were at critical times.
'So there is a mental issue perhaps and we lack concentration at critical times. We had 13 new guys on tour and playing in New Zealand for the first time‚ but as long as we learn from it then we will grow.
'It was a tough tour and we didn’t get good results‚ but as a group we haven’t lost confidence. I and the other coaches haven’t lost confidence and we aren’t going to veer off the path we have chosen to go down.
'Those losses did affect the morale at times‚ but we also played some very good rugby and were in dominant positions at some stages.'
The Stormers will take on another New Zealand side, the Blues, at Newlands on Friday night.
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