Robbie Fleck is backing heavy hitters like ‘Trokkie’ Augustus to stop the Jaguares and bank an important win ahead of the Stormers’ tour. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Stormers will depart for their four-game tour to Australasia on Sunday. Fleck’s team will play the Hurricanes, Blues, Reds and Rebels on successive weekends.
On Wednesday, the Stormers coach highlighted the importance of the next fixture against the Jaguares at Newlands on Friday. If the Cape side beats the Argentinian side – who are coming off a bad loss to the Lions and haven’t won at Newlands before – they will travel Down Under with a three-from-four win record.
There’s been a call from some media outlets for a more expansive approach. Fleck, however, has stated that the need to win on Friday will influence the Stormers’ approach.
On Wednesday, Fleck named a powerful pack including Springboks Siya Kolisi, Steven Kitshoff, Eben Etzebeth, and Pieter-Steph du Toit. Scarra Ntubeni and JD Schickerling have toured with the Boks before, while Juarno Augustus is a former U20 World Rugby Player of the Year.
Interestingly, Fleck has opted for Dillyn Leyds at No 15. Damian Willemse has been named at No 23, and Fleck will decide whether to deploy the gifted 20-year-old at flyhalf or at fullback, according to the game situation.
‘This is a big game before a four-week tour,’ Fleck said. ‘We had the slow start [losing 40-3 to the Bulls] and have had to fight back hard in the last two games. It’s taken a lot of character, but we feel like we’ve gained some momentum and confidence.
‘We won’t take the Jaguares for granted, though,’ he continued. ‘They’ve shown how hard they are to beat in Buenos Aires and have put some teams under pressure when they’ve travelled.
‘The Lions put their scrum under pressure last week, but I think that a few of their better players didn’t feature in that game at Ellis Park. They also have one of the top lineout units in the tournament, so we’ll have to be at our best.’
Augustus and his more established teammates – Kolisi and Du Toit – will have a key role to play at the collisions. As witnessed in the closing stages of that last game at Ellis Park where the Jaguares scored several tries, the Argentinians can be difficult to stop once they’ve built up a head of steam.
‘This is a big opportunity for Trokkie,’ said Fleck. ‘He’s fully fit [after recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the pre-season] and we’re expected big things from him. He’s an explosive player with ball in hand, and will have a key role to play in terms of stopping the Jaguares’ momentum.
‘The Jaguares can hang on to the ball and put teams under pressure. Our defence has looked good in the last two games, though. I think we’re right up there in the tournament with the better teams for tackle success rate and advantage line dominance.
‘You can’t give a side like that space and you can’t switch off for a second. I think that the Jaguares will ask a lot more questions of our defence than we were asked in the previous games [against the Bulls, Lions and Sharks].
‘We’ve got to front up physically, and we’ve got to be smart if we’re going to shut them down.’
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