Fleck on the '100-year storm'

    2014-03-07 10:20
    Cape Town - It's been quite a testing week for the Stormers in an unusually (by summer standards) cold and wet Christchurch, but backline coach Robbie Fleck has seen plenty of positives ahead of the team's massive Super Rugby match-up against the Crusaders.

    The men from Cape Town arrived in Christchurch in the early hours of Tuesday morning (New Zealand time) and were greeted by some harsh weather conditions.

    As a result, field training was cancelled on Tuesday, after just 20 minutes, and the team had their first decent hit-out on Thursday as they upped preparations before taking on the Crusaders in their own backyard on Saturday.

    "It's been a different week - for everyone - we've never quite experienced this kind of weather before in New Zealand, they're calling it the '100-year storm'," said Fleck from Christchurch on Friday morning (NZ time).

    "The guys had to spend the first few days here indoors, but it kept us together and the boys have relaxed and been enjoying each other's company.

    "Since the storm has finished it's been proper summer here, so we trained yesterday (Thursday) in beautiful conditions and we were able to get through everything that we had (and wanted) to.

    "It's actually turned out to be a good week ahead of what is a very important game."

    Experienced flyhalf Peter Grant met up with the team in New Zealand this week - after finishing his club commitments in Japan - and has been named on the bench for Saturday.

    Grant, a veteran of 90 Super Rugby appearances for the Stormers, will be joined on the bench by new wing signing Sailosi Tagicakibau, with both players having fitted in seamlessly this week.

    "Bash (Peter Grant) flew in just a bit earlier this week and Losi (Tagicakibau) has been with the guys for a few days already," said Fleck.

    "In some ways, the storm was a blessing in disguise as the guys were forced to stay inside which gave Bash and Losi a good opportunity to spend extra time (with the guys) and going through all our systems. Bash and Losi are feeling good and they both trained really well on Thursday."

    Fleck was speaking to before the Stormers' final training run of the week - their regular pre-game captain's run (a day before kick-off) - and added: "Thursday was quite a long training session - we had to get through our attack, defence, kicking game and our lineouts in two hours.

    "The intensity was there for the first hour, then we took the tempo down a bit to save the guys and the upcoming captain's run will be a 20-minute walk-through and we will walk through a few more things after dinner tonight at the hotel."

    The Stormers have never won in Christchurch, with South African Super Rugby franchises winning just two out of 44 matches against the Crusaders in New Zealand since 1996. (A further two games have been drawn.)

    The Crusaders' last home defeat against a South African team was almost 13 years ago - on April 22, 2001, when the Cats won by 32-31 in Nelson - whilst their last home loss to a non-New Zealand side came in 2004 (against the Waratahs).

    "It's a massive challenge for us - as a Stormers team and a South African team," said Fleck ahead of Round Five of the 2014 Super Rugby tournament.

    "We've had some close battles with the Crusaders, whether it's been here or back in Cape Town.

    "They're going to be up for it, after two losses, and the people here expect nothing but the best from their team - like our fans back home - so we're both feeling similar pressure at the moment.

    "It's going to be a tough battle up front, between two quality teams, but our boys are ready," added Fleck. "We're taking things game by game, as always, and we're looking to make an improvement in our game (once again) and to keep converting our opportunities."

    Kick-off is at 08:35 (SA time) on Saturday.



    15 Colin Slade, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Reynold Lee-Lo, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Israel Dagg, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett

    Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Kieron Fonotia


    15  Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff

    Substitutes: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Ruan Botha, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau

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