Fleck: Storm­ers bet­ter pre­pared for Sun­wolves this time

Saturday Star - - SPORT - WYNONA LOUW

CAPE TOWN: Storm­ers coach Rob­bie Fleck knows that their Su­per Rugby match against the Sun­wolves to­day (12.35pm SA time) can turn into a “dog fight” if they don’t show the Ja­panese side enough re­spect,

And given the 17-all scare the Storm­ers got when they faced the Sun­wolves at the Na­tional Sta­dium last year, they don’t need any re­mind­ing of how things can go down if they don’t pre­pare prop­erly.

That’s why, ac­cord­ing to Fleck, the Storm­ers did things dif­fer­ently this time around.

The Storm­ers boss said that they couldn’t get any train­ing in due to the weather con­di­tions last year, and they also trav­elled a day later.

But this time, the Storm­ers en­joyed three train­ing ses­sions in the build-up to the match, and they also left South Africa one day ear­lier – which can do a lot for the play­ers in terms of get­ting their sleep­ing pat­terns right be­fore the match.

“Last year we trav­elled a bit later and we weren’t al­lowed to train at all be­cause of the weather. So we’re cer­tainly bet­ter pre­pared,” Fleck said.

But one thing the Storm­ers couldn’t do dif­fer­ently, some­thing that was out of their con­trol, was go to Sin­ga­pore with a full-strength side.

They couldn’t do it last year due to their Spring­bok play­ers be­ing rested as part of the Spring­bok man­age­ment plan and be­cause a num­ber of their key play­ers were in­jured. And now it’s an ugly case of déjà vu for the Cape side.

But luck­ily the Storm­ers have depth – which is al­ways a good thing. But that depth comes in es­pe­cially handy now that Fleck has some promis­ing young tal­ent that he wants to ex­pose to Su­per Rugby.

“That’s rug­ger (in­juries and be­ing with­out their Boks). I think, in the back­line, there’s only one guy that was part of the group that trav­elled here last time. So it’s fairly new to them,” Fleck added.

“We’ve made it clear that this is a tough place to come and play be­cause of the en­vi­ron­ment and the con­di­tions and cer­tainly the op­po­si­tion. But the new faces bring lots of en­ergy and they’re ex­cited to go out there and play.”

“Un­for­tu­nately we’ve been through a tough time early on, which is not ideal, but it is what it is and we’ll con­tinue to fight on.”

Some of those “new faces” in­clude Ju­nior Bok flanker Cobus Wiese and prop Caylib Oosthuizen, who will be look­ing to make their Su­per Rugby and Storm­ers de­buts re­spec­tively.

And while he’s not ex­actly a “new” face, Sevens try master Se­abelo Se­natla will def­i­nitely add to that ex­cite­ment and en­ergy when he runs out with the No 11 on his back. And the fact that he will fea­ture in an al­ready-at­trac­tive Storm­ers back­line should make his chances of up­set­ting the Ja­panese fans even bet­ter.

An­other young face will be that of tight­head prop Wilco Louw re­turn­ing to the start­ing front row, and he should be look­ing to build on that scrum dom­i­nance that he so im­pres­sively sub­jected the Bulls to in the open­ing round of the com­pe­ti­tion.

While we’re on the scrums – the Sun­wolves are a clever set-piece unit and their low scrum­mag­ing tech­nique is a tough one to get un­der (lit­er­ally), so if the Storm­ers were look­ing for af­fir­ma­tion of just how good their own scrum­mag­ing ef­forts have be­come, then the Sun­wolves will be a good mea­sure of that.

But the Sun­wolves won’t just be a progress-in­di­ca­tor for the Storm­ers, as they will also be look­ing to fur­ther im­prove on their per­for­mances – like they have over the last two weeks.

They had it tough against the Hur­ri­canes at the start of the com­pe­ti­tion and they weren’t too great against the Kings ei­ther, but they ran the Cheetahs and the Bulls close.

And Fleck knows the Sun­wolves will want to con­tinue giv­ing big South African teams a tough time.

“They are a hard-work­ing team that you can’t put away eas­ily; they keep work­ing. They’re very good at keep­ing the ball for ex­tended pe­ri­ods and they keep it well,” Fleck said. “The Bulls and the Cheetahs prob­a­bly dis­re­spected them a bit and that made it a dog fight.”

“So we re­spect them. And af­ter last year and what hap­pened in terms of their im­prove­ment over the last two games, we cer­tainly have got our work cut out. They play very sim­i­lar to what the High­landers played, so you can def­i­nitely see Jamie Joseph’s hand there. But we’re look­ing for­ward to it.”

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