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    Stormers: Hot seat getting hotter, but Fleck feels no pressure

    2019-02-21 19:17

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape 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 taste. 

    It has been called one of the worst performances in recent Stormers history, and it is hard to argue with that. 

    Fleck's men were abysmal on the day, outplayed in every department and unable to hold onto their own ball. 

    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 better days. 

    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 things.

    "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 said.

    "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.

    Teams:

    Stormers

    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

    Lions

    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 Dylan Smith

    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 

     

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    Friday, 29 March 2019
    • Hurricanes v Crusaders, Westpac Stadium 08:35
    • Waratahs v Sunwolves, McDonald Jones Stadium 10:45
    Saturday, 30 March 2019
    • Blues v Stormers, Eden Park 08:35
    • Reds v Rebels, Suncorp Stadium 10:45
    • Sharks v Bulls, Jonsson Kings Park Stadium 15:05
    • Jaguares v Chiefs, Estadio Jose Amalfitani 23:40
    Friday, 05 April 2019
    • Highlanders v Hurricanes, Forsyth Barr Stadium 08:35
    • Reds v Stormers, Suncorp Stadium 11:00
    • Lions v Sharks, Emirates Airline Park 19:10

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