Fleck looks to his Boks to lift the intensity
New plans in place for must-win clashes, starting Down Under
TODAY’S clash against the Rebels is probably the Stormers’ most difficult clash of their three remaining matches in the round-robin phase of the Super Rugby competition.
But what’s going to make it even more interesting, and possibly nerve- wracking for the fans, is how their Springbok stars are going to perform after a tough Test series against Ireland last month.
Bok coach Allister Coetzee raved about the intensity at training when they assembled in Stellenbosch, and he began to understand why some of their levels dropped when they returned to their franchises.
The last two Tests took a lot out of the Boks, especially in PE where they had to defend for the majority of the match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Siya Kolisi worked their socks off around the park, while Damian de Allende was a willing carrier every time South Africa needed to consolidate or get out of trouble.
The returning Boks only had two training sessions with the Stormers this week. They were off on Monday, before travelling to Melbourne on Tuesday. The team had a rest day on Wednesday, which meant that coach Robbie Fleck could only have a run-out with his charges the last two days.
However, Fleck sees their participation against Ireland as a positive for the Stormers, who may need to beat the Rebels, Force and Southern Kings if they are to qualify for the playoffs.
“They had quite a tough series to be honest. I think emotionally, mentally and physically they took a bit of a battering. They had to really dig deep to win that series against a decent Irish side,” Fleck said.
“They know what it’s like to play at Test level now ... and I guess that’s a good thing for us. When they come back, they will lift the intensity and the focus a bit.
“They know what it takes to win at Test match level, so I guess we have got a bit of momentum on our side with regards to eight or nine players playing international rugby. They have got to come back and set the standard.”
The Rebels, however, didn’t lose many players to the Wallabies and have probably been targeting today’s match for
Teams for Melbourne
Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Jonah Placid, 13 Sefa Naivalu, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Colby Fainga’a 7 Sean McMahon (capt) 6 Jordy Reid 5 Lopeti Timani 4 Luke Jones 3 Toby Smith 2 James Hanson 1 Cruze Ah Nau. Bench: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Tom Moloney, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Adam Thomson, 21 Mick Snowden, 22 Mitch Inman, 23 Paul Asquith. Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Daniel du Plessis, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Schalk Burger (capt), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble. Bench: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 JP Smith, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 22 Louis Schreuder, 23 Scott van Breda. Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia) Kickoff: 11.45am. TV: SS HD1 over a month.
But Fleck says his side have also used the international break to work on new ideas for their trip to Australia.
“That could be seen as a disruption, but the break did allow us to review our game and work with the guys we did have and put some new plans in place,” he said.
“They know what it takes to play at Test match level and I see that as a positive and not a negative.”
De Allende’s battle with impressive Rebels inside centre Reece Hodge today is going to be one of the main clashes at AAMI Park.
The Bok No 12 is slowly starting to find his best form, although he is still quite erratic. De Allende scored a barnstorming try against the Irish at Ellis Park to help the South Africans level the series, but he also missed a number of tackles in that second Test.
Hodge is a smart player and will be aware that defence is not a particularly strong area of his opposite number’s game. However, the Australian knows that he will also have to be quite sharp to deal with the hulking De Allende.
“Damian was starting to find some much-needed form and to find form at Test level is very difficult, but he certainly started to find it in the last game- and- a- half against the Irish,” said Fleck.
BARNSTORMING: Damian de Allende has found form at the right time.