NZ floods play havoc with Stormers

Wed, 05 Mar 2014 16:00
Large allister coetzee media

The Stormers have been forced into a major reshuffle ahead of their opening tour match, against the Crusaders on Saturday.

The Stormers have been forced into a major reshuffle ahead of their opening tour match, against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.

Unseasonable heavy storms have made it impossible for the team from Cape Town to start their preparations, forcing them to move their only full training session of the week on to Thursday - normally the players' day off.

Flooding has hit a gale-lashed Christchurch, as a southerly storm continued to batter parts of the New Zealand.

"[We] didn't think it could be this wet and this cold in summer in New Zealand," Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said in a media briefing from the team's base in Christchurch.

Tuesday's massive storm has been another disaster for people struggling with the aftermath of recent damaging earthquakes.

The storm exceeded forecasts in its intensity and has been upgraded to a 1-in-100-year event.

Christchurch City Council land drainage operations manager Mike Gillooly told Radio New Zealand that rainfall over the 24-hour period had been the most intense since 1975.

Firefighters have attended some 300 incidents in Canterbury since the storm picked up on Tuesday, smashing windows, bringing down trees and power lines and lifting roofs.

This week's unfavourable weather conditions came just over a week after Christchurch was battered by a devastating 'supercell' storm - a cold front which galloped across the South Island and delivered thunderstorms, localised heavy rain, 90km/h wind gusts.

"It is almost like another disaster [like the earthquakes in 2011]," the Stormers mentor said, adding: "It looks like it is clearing up, so it will hopefully be a better day tomorrow [Thursday]."

It is predicted that Thursday and Friday will be "mainly fine", with some morning and evening cloud. There are some northeasterly winds developing in the early afternoon.

By Saturday the southerly winds will bring showers again.

Coetzee said because of the conditions they've had to make major adjustments to their schedule.

"What I have done is that the off-day has been swapped around. We went out Tuesday just to run off a bit of the travel fatigue, then I swapped the off-day [to Wednesday] and Thursday will be the training day."

The Stormers are determined to start their tour on a high, after suffering a humiliating (10-34) loss to the Lions in their first match en then recorded a fortuitous (19018) win over the Hurricanes last week.

But the testing conditions will not help much, given the limited preparation time.=

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