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    Fleck not fighting for his future in 2019

    2019-02-15 09:09

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Durban - It is safe to say that Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has copped his fair share of criticism since taking the reins ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby season. 

    It has been three long, tough years for Fleck in Cape Town. 

    In 2016 - Fleck was still caretaker manager at the time after Eddie Jones dropped his England bombshell - the Stormers were hammered 60-21 at Newlands in the quarter-finals against the Chiefs and in 2017 they lost 17-11 against the same opposition at the same venue in the last eight. 

    It was last year, though, that the heat on Fleck reached new levels as the Stormers limped to a fourth-placed finish in the South African Conference and missed the tournament play-offs by a mile. 

    Fleck has had to deal with injuries to key players during his time in charge and particularly during 2018, but the Cape Town rugby fraternity is an expectant one and by the end of last year, questions were being raised over Fleck's future. 

    It was just the latest issue facing a union that already had its own well-documented financial and administrative challenges, while the accusations of discrimination made by former assistant coach Paul Treu made matters even worse. 

    As Fleck approaches 2019, however, he does so with an element of freedom.

    "There is no pressure on my shoulders this year. This is the last year of my contract, it ends on October 31 and that's the way I see it," he told media in Cape Town on Thursday after announcing his side for Saturday's Super Rugby opener against the Bulls at Loftus.

    "All the coaches are going to coach with freedom this year and, regardless of what happens, we're going to give as much energy and input to our players as we can so that they can perform.

    "I'm not going to concern myself with my future. If the team performs well, it means that I am performing well and we'll see what happens after that."

    Fleck and the Stormers will not have to wait long to be tested. 

    Saturday's clash against a new-look Bulls team that now boasts the likes of Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Brits is set to be a cracker. 

    Kick-off is at 17:15.

    Teams:

    Bulls

    15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Jessie Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Lood de Jager (captain), 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka

    Substitutes: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Eli Snyman, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Dylan Sage

    Stormers

    15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 JJ Engelbrecht, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 SP Marais, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak

    Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Kobus van Dyk, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Dan du Plessis

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    Fixtures

    Saturday, 23 March 2019
    • Sunwolves v Lions, Singapore National Stadium 12:55
    • Bulls v Chiefs, Loftus Versfeld 15:05
    • Sharks v Rebels, Jonsson Kings Park Stadium 17:15
    Sunday, 24 March 2019
    • Reds v Brumbies, Suncorp Stadium 07:05
    Friday, 29 March 2019
    • Hurricanes v Crusaders, Westpac Stadium 08:35
    • Waratahs v Sunwolves, McDonald Jones Stadium 10:45

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