The tries are sure to come, says Fleck
THE Stormers have brilliant runners like Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie, yet they have only scored 23 tries in 13 Super Rugby matches this year.
Even though it is hard to argue with 52 points and third spot on the overall log, the Stormers’ try-scoring record is the second-worst behind the Force (18). Even the lowly Rebels, whom the Stormers face in Melbourne this morning, have scored three more tries than the South African conference leaders.
With the Stormers having a backline and attack coach such as Robbie Fleck, you would think that it would be raining tries instead of water in the Cape. But it just hasn’t been happening for them this year. It was all fine in 2010, when Allister Coetzee’s men raked in 36 tries in 13 league games to clinch a home semifinal. So, what’s the problem this season?
“I think the Chiefs game was a big lesson for us. We just kicked away too much possession and didn’t even try to play rugby in the second half. From then on, it has been a sort of mindset shift for our guys,” Fleck said yesterday.
“We created a lot of opportunities again in the Brumbies game last week. The good news is that we are creating those opportunities, and a lot more than we have in the past. It is just that final pass or final option that has been letting us down in terms of scoring a lot of tries. We’ve just got to keep banging away.
“We really have just been trying to encourage the guys to play a lot more rugga. We understand that players are going to make mistakes and nobody’s perfect, but as long as they keep trying and keep working at it, that is all we can ask.”
Of course, the performance of rookie flyhalf Kurt Coleman will be crucial in trying to unleash the Stormers’ backline. He had some jittery moments against the Brumbies, but also displayed a good set of passing and kicking skills.
“Kurt will go better. He had a bit of a nervous start, but he’s had a full week’s training with the guys and played a game, so he needs to keep building on his performances and confidence. Playing next to Jean de Villiers will help, as he is the vice-captain and a good communicator and organiser,” Fleck said.
“Last week, we had a young number eight, a young 10 and a young 12. I feel that Juan de Jongh has been unbelievable, he is really playing exceptional rugby. But for this game, with Kurt, we wanted somebody to organise and get the calls going through with Jean. And Kurt is a lot more confident with the calls and the systems.
“Ricky has been playing good rugga, but he needs to step up to the plate in terms of being a senior player next to Kurt, with his knowledge and organisational skills. We lost our way a little bit around that eight-nine-10-12 combination last week. Ricky needs to play a big role in helping Kurt through the game, along with Jean and Jaque Fourie.”