With the 22nd year of Super Rugby fast approaching, we take a look a look at the DHL Stormers Super Rugby prospects in 2017.
DHL Stormers Super Rugby Prospects
The South African teams, competing in two separate conferences, seem to be relatively evenly matched. The early prediction is that the Lions will be the team to beat and the Kings likely to be the basement dwellers again. In between we are likely to see the a close contest for supremacy between the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Cheetahs. As we know, is a very long tournament and anything could possibly happen.
Players leaving the Stormers include Vincent Koch to Saracens, Johnny Kotze to the Bulls, Schalk Burger to Saracens, Nic Groom to Northampton Saints, Louis Schreuder to the Kings, Jaco Taute to Munster, Scott van Breda who was not retained and Kobus van Wyk to the Sharks
Incoming players include tough open-side flanker Marnus Schoeman on loan from the Pumas, Dewalt Duvenhage from Perpignan and Dan Kriel and SP Marais from the Bulls. These players will be joined by a number of players who are taking the step up from the Western Province Currie Cup and age-group teams.
The Stormers were losing quarter finalists in 2016. Losing home playoff games has been the the achilles heel of the Stormers in Super Rugby. This is especially disappointing as they had a very successful campaign in the group stages. They finished on top of the Africa 1 Conference, 2nd in the South African Group and 3rd overall.
Style of play
The Stormers were known for their bloody-minded defence under former coach Allister Coetzee, but not for a very expansive game plan. There was no significant difference in their style of play when Robbie Fleck took over the reigns, despite his insistence that he would bring a new approach to the game. He was on a hiding to nothing as there was no plan in place to develop the skills needed to take their game forward. This has been addressed for the 2017 season with the appointment of former Blues assistant coach Paul Feeney as a specialist skills coach. Hopefully, this translates into a more attractive style of play.
Robbie Fleck was fast tracked into the position of Head Coach of the Stormers. He had some coaching experience with their age-group teams and as an assistant coach to Allister Coetzee. He was destined to stay in that position under newly appointed Head Coach Eddie Jones. Jones served what was probably the shortest tenure as a coach in the professional era and left only two weeks into the job after being head hunted for the England job.
Fleck’s first year in the job may have been a tough introduction to top level coaching, but he did lead the Stormers to a top three position across all conferences. His next test will be how he develops his squad to be competitive in the playoff stages of the competition.
Fleck has appointed the 16 times capped Springbok flanker Siya Kolisi as his captain for 2017, which may turn out to be an inspired choice. His on field decision making will come under the microscope, but few will question the fact that his is the type of person that the team will play for. For those who are not aware of Kolisi’s journey through life, you can find a small preview here.
The Playing Strip
The Stormers jerseys, courtesy of www.thestormers.com .
The Stormers are normally the best supported team in Super Rugby, with great crowd attendances at their home ground, Newlands. Their fans will be very keen to see them progressing past the quarter finals.