Town - It is safe to say that Robbie
Fleck has been under the pump this week.
The 40-3 loss to the
Bulls at Loftus has left Stormers coach the subject of some heavy criticism on
social media while a couple of esteemed rugby writers have publicly questioned
his coaching ability.
We may only be one round of
fixtures deep in Super Rugby 2019, but the nature of the Stormers' loss on
Saturday to their fiercest rivals has left Capetonians with a bitter
It has been called one of the
worst performances in recent Stormers history, and it is hard to argue with
Fleck's men were abysmal on the
day, outplayed in every department and unable to hold onto their own
With the financial troubles off
the field as well as a very public, very ugly situation that saw former
assistant Paul Treu accuse Fleck and his coaching team of discrimination,
things have been far from stable at Western Province.
The arrival of new president Zelt
Marais has also caused uncertainty, with a number of high-profile members of
management unsure of their futures.
The union, undoubtedly, has seen
There will never be an excuse,
though, for the type of beating the Stormers took last weekend.
"It wasn't a good day for
us. It's difficult to describe the feeling ... it was a tough, tough loss.
Personally, I struggled to get over that one," Pieter-Steph du Toit,
perhaps the Stormers' most prized possession this year, told media at Newlands
on Thursday ahead of Saturday's clash against the Lions.
Fleck is in the final year of his
contract and, at this rate, it is hard to see him staying on in 2020.
He said before the start of the
season that he was approaching the campaign with a freedom that came with being
in his final year, but if the Stormers keep take 40-point hidings, Fleck will
keep being asked if he is feeling the heat.
That was the case once more on
Thursday, but the former Springbok centre held firm, insisting that nothing had
changed after his side's trip to Loftus.
"My job is to keep pressure
off the team," Fleck said.
"Let's take ourselves two
weeks back. We beat the Bulls in the Marvel Superhero Sunday and everyone was
cheering and saying it was a great performance and that we got it tactically
right against them.
"Two weeks later, things
turn around. They play well, tactically, and they beat us and now suddenly
there is pressure on the team? There is no pressure. We have got to deliver and
play like we did in that Superhero Sunday and things will come together."
The Stormers won 33-28 on that day at Cape Town Stadium,
but a pre-season friendly will never have much weight in the greater scheme of
"It's funny how things
change in two weeks. Two weeks ago, this press conference room was very
different and now suddenly it's a disaster," Fleck continued.
"It's not. It's a long
campaign, we had a bad day and we get to rectify it."
The task does not get any easier
for the Stormers.
On Saturday they host a side that
has finished runners-ups for the last three tournament in the Lions.
Fleck knows that the Stormers are
up against it and he is trying to not think about the result too much.
"What's important is that we
play well and last weekend we didn't. We were all disappointed in our
performance last week from the players through to the management," he
"We've had some tough
discussions this week and a bit of honesty. That wasn't our standard last week.
"If we play well, then the
result will take care of itself."
Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:15.
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal
Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 SP Marais, 10 Jean-Luc du
Plessis, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya
Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi
Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak
Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni,
17 Corne Fourie, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21
Herschel Jantjies, 22 Joshua Stander, 23 Dan du Plessis
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Courtnall
Skosan, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Elton
Jantjies 9 Nic Groom, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Marnus
Schoeman, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1
Substitutes: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17
Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Sti Sithole, 19 Rhyno Herbst, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21
Gianni Lombard, 22 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 23 Sylvian Mahuza