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Super Rugby getting 'tribal'

Thu, 03 Apr 2014 12:47
Cheika-and-dennis
Expecting the Stormers' white knight
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Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has put down the small percentage of away wins in this year's competition to home-ground tribalism.
 
The controversial coach believes that as the Super Rugby tournament continues to grow, winning away from home will become far tougher. 
 
He maintains that, just like in Europe where he coached Leinster and Stade Français, as teams grow together as entities they start to fortify their home grounds thorough pride as well as passionate fans.
 
He attributes the small number of away wins in the 2014 season, which stands at eight out of 42 games so far - that is an 80 percent home win ratio, to tribalism within the teams.
 
"I think it is natural as a tournament gains more tradition [that away wins will be harder to come by], the tournament has been going now for however long it is and teams have been playing within their current state in Super Rugby for over 10 years," Cheika said.
 
"In my experience in Europe, the longer the players are together as an entity against other entities the more tribal it becomes and the more your supporters get behind you when you are winning your home games; in Super Rugby there are only eight of them [home games] a year so they are very important."
 
Cheika is well aware of the fact that no team has traveled across the Indian Ocean - in either direction - and won but he hopes to be the first team to buck this trend as his stumbling Waratahs take on the returning Stormers on Saturday.
 
"Obviously we are going to be looking to go against the tide this week in relation to winning away from home, we are very focused on playing the right type of game to get that result," he added.
 
The out-spoken coach went on the lend some support for his upcoming opponents, using them to exemplify his point.
 
The Stormers have been handed a tough draw in these early stages of the competition and with every team struggling to win away Cheika believes there is no crisis in the Stormers' camp.
 
"The reality is, if you look at the rest of the competition, there really isn't a lot of teams that have won away from home, so the Stormers are only in this situation because they have traveled early," he said.
 
"I think everyone likes to throw up that hype and pressure, but at the end of the day they have won as many home games as we have.
 
"I don't see it as they are a team that has a problem, the same thing happened to them last year if I'm not mistaken? They had the trip early away from home, started slow then came up the table. 
 
"Im sure a side that is led by a quality guy like Jean de Villiers and the players that they have and the coaching staff, they are going to bounce back as soon as they get their home advantage - just like everyone else has."
 
The Waratahs team was announced on Thursday with one notable name missing, that of prolific try-scorer Israel Folau who has not recovered from a throat injury suffered before the Waratahs left for South Africa.
 
When asked about the make-up of the backline the coach was blunt in saying that they are highly likely to switch around during the game and in fact Kurtley Beale would be starting at No.12 even though it had been announced  that he would play fullback.
 
"I didn't actually write the team down that way, its come out the wrong way, Beale is going to play No.12 - but its all the same.
 
"If they have announced it that way we will put it like that, he will probably play some spots No.12, some spots No.15 anyway," Cheika said nonchalantly.
 
When asked about influential Stormers captain, Jean de Villiers, missing the match, Cheika was skeptical.
 
"I'd like to believe everything I read in the newspapers but it wouldn't surprise me if Jean de Villiers came riding out on a big horse to lead the team on to the field like the white knight that he is!
 
"He is a great player and it would have to be something serious to be keeping him out.
 
"There is always a part in the back of the coaches mind that thinks he's going to run out any way," Cheika concluded 
 
By Darryn Pollock
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