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Can the Stormers dig themselves out?

Sun, 06 Apr 2014 11:19
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This week gives us some time to reflect
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Stormers coach Allister Coetzee admits that his team is 'in a hole' after hitting rock bottom on the Super Rugby standings.

Their weak capitulation against the Waratahs at Newlands on Saturday was their sixth defeat in seven matches, leaving them rooted to the bottom of the table where they will remain for a while with a bye week coming up.

Coetzee's team once again lacked the penetration required to build up a decent score, leaving him deflated after the game as he tried to explain what went wrong.

"What can you say? We are in a bit of a hole at the moment and it is just for this team to get themselves out of that hole," said the Stormers coach.

Coetzee said that individual errors and a lack of composure under pressure from inexperienced players have been frustrating them this season.

"Maybe we have got to relook at our goals and our plans. I think the plans were good, we wanted to drive-maul them which worked and we got really good rewards from that.

"But then it is a mistake here, a long pass going out to touch.

"It is clear that when there is no pressure on the team, especially in the first half, that they play with vigour and energy but as soon as there is a bit of pressure on there you see a lot of decisions that are strange," he said.

The Stormers coach believes that an adaptation to their game this season, which is to attack from turnover ball, has made things more difficult for his side.

"The biggest change that we tried to make this year, which we tried in the Currie Cup is when we get turnover ball that is the ball that we run.

"The decisions I am talking about which are really strange to me are when we start kicking those balls away. That to me is a bit of a concern which is why I have got a questions mark over the confidence of certain players," he said.

Coetzee lamented the lengthy injury list, although he pointed out that he was not making excuses.

"It is not good enough, and I am not saying that the young players in the team are not good enough, they are really trying, but we do lack a bit of our experienced players.

"You are sitting with six players that are playing their first year of Super Rugby, these are not excuses I am making but that is the reality.

"You have got De Kock Steenkamp, Eben Etzebeth, Manuel Carrizza, Rynhardt Elstadt and Gerbrand Grobler out as locks and now you are sitting with number six and seven and you are playing with hooker number three that is one reason for the set-piece falling apart," he said.

Coetzee will have the week off to consider the best way out of this situation, and is relieved to have new Director of Rugby Gert Smal to suppport him as he looks to turn things around.

"This week gives us some time to reflect and make sure that the plan we have suits the personel. We might just have stuck with the plan but not the personel because of the injuries and the continous changes we have had to make so will sit back down and reevaluate it.

"That is why I am so happy that Gert [Smal] is here. Gert will be sitting in on all my meetings, he will hear my plans so I can get his views," he said.

After the bye Coetzee will also get back the services of a host of Springbok players when they next take the field against the Lions.

"Realistically speaking Jean de Villiers will be back, Pat Cilliers, Scarra Ntubeni, Schalk Burger and Tiaan [Liebenberg] will be back, Cheslin Kolbe might be an extra week or two away," said Coetzee.

It is an important two weeks for Coetzee whose team will have to respond to this and raise their game considerably in their home stretch after a disastrous start to the season.

If Coetzee is going to dig them out of this hole, then it will require more than just the return of their big-name players if they are to turn things around.

By Michael de Vries

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