Stormers are leaning on Treeby

    2017-04-25 21:58

    Gavin Rich -

    Cape Town - Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has admitted that his squad has been drawing heavily on the experience and local knowledge of former Highlanders stalwart Shaun Treeby in the build-up to Friday’s clash in Dunedin – and he says they will also be relying on him to produce during the match itself.

    The 28-year-old Kiwi has yet to feature in a Stormers match day squad since arriving in Cape Town on a four month contract last month, but he has spent several weeks now training with the squad. He has had enough time now to assimilate himself into the Stormers pattern and to get to know the structures, and as it turns out, the timing may be perfect for an introduction that has been forced by the injury to Dan du Plessis.

    Du Plessis, son of former Western Province and Springbok flyhalf and centre Michael du Plessis, was forced to fly home from New Zealand at the weekend after dislocating his shoulder in the 57-24 defeat to the Crusaders in the opening tour match in Christchurch. Fleck took a bit of flak when Treeby was recruited from people who argued that it wasn’t necessary, but the coach always said that his men were one injury away from a crisis in the midfield.

    That injury has now happened – international players Huw Jones, Damian de Allende and Juan de Jongh are also all out – and thanks to Treeby’s presence, there is no crisis.

    “On this tour there are a lot of young kids who have never toured New Zealand before and it is a great learning process for them, so to have a guy like Shaun, who is a local and who has played with and against the opposition we encounter many times, is great for us,” said Fleck.

    “So we are definitely looking to give him a go this weekend, whether it is off the bench or in the starting line-up. We are really looking forward to seeing how he goes.”

    The two other centres left standing after the latest injury are EW Viljoen and Dan Kriel. The former chooses himself for the Forsyth Barr Stadium match as he has been in outstanding form in his first season of Super Rugby, but Fleck may take some time out to deliberate on whether to start with Kriel or Treeby as his partner.

    After two successive defeats to the Lions and Crusaders, both of them games where the Stormers failed to pick up a single log point, a win has become an imperative in Dunedin, which was probably the venue targeted as most likely for a tour victory as the Highlanders haven’t played with the authority and assurance this year that they did under their previous coach Jamie Joseph.

    Although disappointed with the magnitude of the defeat in Christchurch, Fleck remains in an upbeat mood and is confident his men can turn it around against the Highlanders.

    “It was really just 11 minutes of real pain against them, during which they put 20 points on us. Credit to the boys, they came back fighting after that and we actually did well to contain a Crusaders team that really was on fire,” said the coach.

    Fleck said that the players would have learned a lot from the defeat and had already made adjustments to their game in the second half.

    “We know we need to patch up there (our defence) but the second half was a much better performance from us.”

    He knows though that the Highlanders amount to a formidable obstacle.

    “The Highlanders have a number of key All Blacks in their side and they’re a very dangerous side, particularly when they are playing in Dunedin. They’d have taken a lot of learning from that 10 minute period when the Crusaders put us away.

    “But we also learnt in Christchurch. We hadn’t faced linespeed like that of the Crusaders before, and that is something we will certainly face against the Highlanders and Hurricanes. The guys have experienced it now and we are more prepared for what we will be up against.”

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