Stormers have nothing to fear
Cape Town - After all of the hype surrounding the Lions and their quest to finish top of the overall log in Super Rugby this season, Johan Ackermann's men ended up just a single point ahead of the Stormers.
While the Lions went to Buenos Aires and picked up nothing against the Jaguares on the final weekend, the Stormers cruised to a bonus-point win - their third in as many weeks - against the Kings to ensure that they ended the regular season on 51 points to the Lions' 52.
It is, of course, hard to compare the Lions and the Stormers with the Capetonians having avoided all of the New Zealand sides.
That will change this weekend, though, when the Stormers take on the Chiefs at Newlands in the quarter-finals.
Fleck, speaking to media on Monday, said he did not want to read too much into the fact that his side had not encountered Kiwi opposition this year.
"I think that we’re an improving side, regardless of who we play against," Fleck said.
"We deserve to be up there. We’ve had our fair share of injuries … we’ve fought our way through. We had to get 15 points in the last three games and we were on tour as well so I think it’s massive credit to this team and the way we’re going at the moment.
The Stormers had their moments.
Were it not for a last-minute defeat to the Waratahs on April 30 and a shocking 17-17 draw with the Sunwolves in Singapore the following week, they could well have toppled the Lions and perhaps the Hurricanes too.
"There is always this debate about us not playing any New Zealand sides … I didn’t decide that and the players didn’t decide on that group," added Fleck.
"It is what it is and we’ve done exceptionally well to get here. We were one scrum away in the Waratahs game from landing top of the whole log, or a bonus-point win in Singapore.
"It’s a fine line. At one stage we were in trouble and the next thing you know we’ve done exceptionally well to get to just one point behind the Lions and two points behind the guys who topped the overall group."
Turning his attention to the Chiefs, Fleck encouraged his players to approach the game with the same fearless attitude they had vowed to make a part of their DNA at the start of the season.
"Obviously there’s this aura around the New Zealand sides at the moment and they’re playing at an intensity that is quite impressive and 80 minutes long," said Fleck.
"But I certainly believe this side of ours can match that intensity and I believe that all South African teams have the skill set to match theirs and we mustn’t believe the hype too much about these teams.
"At the end of the day, like Schalk (Burger) said, they’ve still got two arms and two legs and we’ve got the ability to beat these sides.
"We’ve got huge belief within our squad. If we get the right gameplan and the players buy into that and we prep really well during the week then I believe that any South African side can beat a New Zealand side."