Storm­ers

Sunday Times - - Sport | Rugby -

● The Storm­ers will start their cam­paign with­out the con­sid­er­able pres­ence of lock Eben Etze­beth but will be buoyed by tight­head Wilco Louw’s re­turn to fit­ness. That he has avoided se­ri­ous in­jury is a boost as it has averted a po­ten­tial cri­sis in that cu­ri­ously del­i­cate po­si­tion. The Storm­ers’ draw does them no favours with the Jaguares com­ing to town first up be­fore the team heads for Syd­ney, Christchurch and Dunedin. The in­juries will rob them of the up­front sub­stance that is go­ing to be needed if they want a plat­form to un­leash their evolv­ing game plan.

Coach Rob­bie Fleck has in­jected en­ergy and pur­pose into the Storm­ers’ at­tack but his test will be to es­tab­lish a bal­ance be­tween that as­pect of their play and their abil­ity to roll with the punches. The Storm­ers peren­ni­ally make the play-offs but that isn’t guar­an­teed in the re­vised com­pe­ti­tion. Some of their stel­lar staff may make a well-timed re­turn but the Storm­ers can’t af­ford to lose ground early.

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