Stormers’ need for speed
Cape outfit is concentrating on conditioning ahead of Super Rugby
STORMERS strength and conditioning coach, Stephan du Toit, last week said that they were focused on cutting the fat among their players and getting them faster. Or, at least, getting them to work at their highest possible intensity.
And that is exactly what Robbie Fleck’s, pictured, men need to advance the ’new approach’ they adopted last year.
In 2016, the Stormers said they would look to keep the ball in hand more and play more expansively, and although we saw promising glimpses of that during their Super Rugby campaign, they still have some miles to go before they can rival the Lions’ or the Cheetahs’ impressive progress.
But an altered conditioning programme is the first step in that direction.
Think of it like this; the more speed training and reaction time training players do, the faster they will be able to run, but they will also be able to react to game situations quicker and more effectively.
So basically, quicker execution, fewer errors.
And that is vital if a team wants to play a more attacking brand.
Du Toit and new Stormers skills man Paul Feeney have worked closely to enhance the Cape side’s attacking flair since the Kiwi arrived on South African shores.
And that is the right way to do it because, in essence, speed without skills might be something, but being able to execute a skill at speed or at least in one smooth motion is worth much more.
One area that Du Toit said has also been a focus area, has been to get players to run faster after contact.
“We are trying to bring in a little bit more ball in hand. Speed is the one component that is really influential, so we try and target speed and with that players need to lose weight and skin-folds.
“The game is getting faster but not longer. We are trying to improve the skill of running faster after contact,” he said.
The emphasis on that is a great choice, as a player’s speed off the ground will help him to get into either an attacking or defensive line quicker.
He also said that forwards, props specifically, will share some of the skill requirements to backs.
“Props now need to pass and catch and get back up on their feet the same way that backs need to. We are trying to get them all to do at least something at a high velocity after contact.” Feeney, having worked with the Blues as skills coach and, well, being a New Zealander, would know the importance of skills training better than most. The proof is in how the New Zealand sides play. Their forwards’ agility and mobility levels are not worlds away from their backs, and their skills need no explanation.
So, having him on board is vital for the Stormers. But so is their conditioning.
In fact, you could say that conditioning is the most important aspect, as that is the foundation that should come before any other area.
So, the Stormers’ choice to alter their conditioning programme and add a skills emphasis is the right one.
And just in case you thought they weren’t serious about their Super Rugby preparation, Du Toit said that they were also monitoring the players’ eating habits.
“We have a dietician that we work with and that we send players to.
“We’ve put a big emphasis on that. A lot of the heavier guys or the guys that can lose a bit, were lighter.”