Stormers coach Robbie Fleck insists his team are not under pressure ahead of their match against the Lions at Newlands on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The Stormers are still reeling from their chastening 40-3 defeat to the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld last Saturday.
Much was done during the Stormers’ pre-season, including a win against the Bulls in Cape Town, to create an expectation that the team would finally fulfil its promise. However, it has all fallen flat following a game where, aside from the opening 10 minutes, the Stormers were never really in it.
Before the Vodacom Super Rugby season got under way, Fleck put down any suggestion that he and his coaching staff are under any pressure over their job security.
When pressed whether the defeat brought pressure back on to his team and his own job security, Fleck was quick to refer to the great fanfare that blanketed the side during the pre-season.
‘It remains the status quo. My job is to keep pressure off the team and off myself as well,’ Fleck said.
‘Let’s take ourselves two weeks back. We beat the Bulls in the Superhero Sunday match and everyone is cheering and saying what a great performance. Tactically we got it right against them. They came down with a mission and we beat them well.
‘Two weeks later, things turn around. They play well tactically and they beat us. Now suddenly there is pressure on the team.
‘There is no pressure on the team. We have got to deliver and play like we did in that Superhero Sunday match, believe in what we have done over the past couple of weeks, believe in each other and things will come together.
‘It is funny how things change in two weeks. This press conference room was very different two or three weeks ago and now suddenly it is a disaster. It is not. It is a long campaign, we had a bad day, we need to rectify it and we will look to start doing that on Saturday.’
One area that the Stormers will need to rectify if they are to stand any chance of beating the Lions is their lineout, which malfunctioned to a horrible extent in the first half against the Bulls.
While it did improve in the second half, which coincided with Scarra Ntubeni replacing Bongi Mbonambi in the 52nd minute of the match, Fleck refused to blame his starting hooker for what went wrong.
‘Everyone will look at the lineouts and be quick to blame the hookers, but the lineout specialist sitting next to me [Pieter-Steph du Toit] can tell you it is a system thing. It wasn’t good enough that in the first half we only won 22% of our lineouts. But in the second half, people tend to forget we got 100% of our lineouts. That is not to do with Scarra replacing Bongi. It was just that we sorted out our system.
‘It should be rectified. It has been a good week in that regard. There is pressure on our lineout at the moment, but the confidence the boys can take out of the Bulls game is that they won 100% – and that was nine lineouts– in the second half. We have to take that as a positive going forward.’
Du Toit was confident that the lineout issues have been sorted out.
‘It is just something that was a system matter. I think we pinpointed the problem. We have had a great week. We have got good options. We have worked on the system and also gone back to the basics as well. If we get that better, it will be a great day for us.’
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