Fleck looks to his Boks to lift the in­ten­sity

New plans in place for must-win clashes, start­ing Down Un­der

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - JOHN GOLIATH

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.

BACKPAGEPIX

BARN­STORM­ING: Damian de Al­lende has found form at the right time.

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