Rennie’s not bluffing, Chiefs will play – Fleck
THERE’S nothing like some mind games ahead of a big rugby match. It adds spice to an already mouth-watering affair.
The weather that the Stormers and the Chiefs will encounter in their quarter-final at Newlands tonight has been a talking point. There have been questions about the style of play they will adopt in wet conditions, especially because they both enjoy keeping the ball alive.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie fired the first salvo. He said his team will play their natural attacking game, but he doesn’t think the Stormers have the courage to play their new style in the wet.
“We haven’t played in too much rain this year. We did against the Crusaders a couple of weeks ago and I think we did a good job dealing with that. If it rains, we’ll still play,” Rennie said. “I guess the question is will they still play in the rain, and I’m not sure.”
Robbie Fleck believes Rennie is telling the truth when he says his Chiefs team are not going to supress their natural instincts. But the Stormers coach has kept his cards close to his chest about how his team will go about their business.
“I don’t think he’s bluffing, I think they are going to play rugby. We watched them against the Crusaders in the rain. They certainly did keep ball in hand. Tactically, their kicking game was a bit different, but they certainly do keep ball in hand. The weather doesn’t deter them too much,” Fleck said.
“I like their attitude, to be honest, I think it’s great. It’s something that we’d certainly like to embrace as well.]
“Let’s just see what happens on the weekend, whether we kick or run.”
While the Stormers are underdogs, they have also had to deal with constant reminders about their previous failures in knockout matches. In six playoffs, they have only won once, which came in the semi-final against the Waratahs in 2010.
Their most recent heartache came against the Brumbies at Newlands last year, when everything just went south.
However, while Fleck has been a part of most of those defeats, both on and off the field, there are several new faces who don’t have the same baggage. It’s only Schalk Burger who was around when the Stormers dominated at the turn of the decade.
Fleck has tried to keep things as simple as possible this week. “I think what happens when you play in these quarters is that you play these quality teams with brilliant coaches and you want to come up with new plans and great ideas,” he said.
“But to have one week to try and prepare and do that is not enough, you know. For us it’s really been about keeping the focus on us and keeping it simple. Taking the pressure off the team, training the way we need to play and trying to tick those boxes.”
Tonight, we’ll know the respective game plans, and who won the battle. But, and most importantly, we’ll know if this young Stormers side have written their own legacy.
IT’LL BE DIFFERENT THIS TIME, SCHALK: Robbie Fleck has been a part of several knockout heartaches.