Why Fleck is the right man for the Stormers

2015-12-14 12:54
Robbie Fleck (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Stormers supporters awoke to the news on Saturday morning that Robbie Fleck had been named coach for the upcoming Super Rugby season.

While Fleck has been handed the reins on an "interim" basis, any sort of success at the helm will no doubt see him keep the job for the foreseeable future.

And that success shouldn't be difficult to achieve considering the Stormers stumbled and fumbled their way to the South African Conference title last season (finishing with the seventh-highest number of points) before being bundled out of the tournament by the Brumbies in the "quarter-final" stage.

In order to be crowned SA Conference champions last season, all the Stormers needed to do was finish ahead of the Lions, Bulls, Sharks and Cheetahs.

Next year in order to match their achievements from 2015, the Stormers only need to finish ahead of two of those local rivals - the Bulls and Cheetahs (as well as the Tokyo-based Sunwolves side who will do remarkably well to even field a team).

Such is the madness of the new Super Rugby format that the winner of each of the two four-team South African Conferences will progress to the quarter-finals.

Fleck is a Western Province man through-and-through. The exact words used in fact by WPRFU president Thelo Wakefield when commenting on Fleck's appointment.

Fleck, 40, was educated at Wynberg Boys before matriculating from Bishops. He represented both Western Province (1995-2003) and the Stormers (1998-2003) with distinction, before going on to play 31 Tests for the Springboks.

Earlier this year Fleck led the WP Under-21 team to the title.

While his coaching career is still in its infancy, when compared to those at the helm of the other SA Super Rugby teams in 2016, Fleck is among the more experienced.

The Bulls' Nollis Marais and the Cheetahs' Franco Smith are both in their debut Super Rugby coaching seasons and do not boast the same Test-experience, while in the other SA Conference, the Lions' Johan Ackermann heads into his third year at the helm, the Sharks' Gary Gold into his second, while the Kings' Deon Davids appears to be on a hiding to nothing in his debut season.

Fleck will no doubt call on close friend and WP Currie Cup coach John Dobson for assistance. Thanks for the new-look Currie Cup format for next year, the two tournaments will run concurrently for much of 2016.

Super Rugby and Currie Cup coaches will be working closer than ever before, and the sharing and calling up of players particularly in times of injury will become the norm. An excellent understanding between coaches will thus be vital, and that's an area where the Stormers may well have an advantage over others.

While Fleck's appointment may come as a surprise to some, considering the fact Director of Rugby Gert Smal is on record as saying he wanted a coach with "six to seven years of Super Rugby experience" while "international experience would be beneficial", there's simply no man with the best interests of WP closer to his heart.

Read more on:    stormers  |  super rugby  |  cape town  |  rugby

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