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Smal: Don't confuse the players

Mon, 07 Apr 2014 15:15
Gert-smal-_-greg-hecter Gert-smal-_-jean-de-villier
They must 'express' themselves
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Gert Smal has started his second week as Director of Rugby by having a meeting with the Stormers and Western Province coaching staff.

However, there won't be any major shake-ups or a massive shift in the Stormers' tactics in Super Rugby.

The crestfallen Stormers - who slumped to a fifth consecutive loss (11-22 to the Waratahs at the weekend) and their sixth defeat in seven games - looked a pale shadow of the team that topped the South African conference in 2011 and 2012.

They are propping up the foot of the Super Rugby table, an unfamiliar position for a team that also played in the 2010 Final.

The Stormers have a bye this week, with their next match scheduled for April 19 against the Lions at Newlands.

Smal, who on Monday met with the coaching staff in Cape Town, is keen to have a look at the systems in operation.

However, he has already made it clear he will not invoke mass changes.

While he would like to see some changes, he is also well aware that drastic alterations to the game plan will just cause more harm than good.

"I would like to see us play a typical WP brand," Smal said after his appointment - making it clear he is not talking of a "run-at-all-costs" approach.

"It will take some work to get it through, because players have been coached for the past 10 years in a very structured way," Smal said.

"It is how we will equip the players to have the skills to do that, that will also be a challenge."

He also hinted that he would look at brining in some consultants to help with upskilling players.

"We are quite fortunate in the Western Cape in that we have a fair amount of coaching intellect," Smal said, adding: "If need be I will touch base with them and see if they want to be involved or not.

"It will be good to get those guys behind us as well, because normally the former players are your biggest critics. It will be good to touch base and get their ideas.

"I won't let them tell me how to play the game, because as coaches and assistant coaches we will sit down and see how we can take the game forward."

Asked what he thought was "typical WP and Stormers rugby", Smal described it as a winning 15-man game, which is unpredictable.

"It is the type of game where players can express themselves. However, it is easier said than done [to implement]."

Smal will also use the experienced gained the past four years as the forwards coach of Ireland, where had a chance to tap into the intellect knowledge of a broad ranged of experts.

He said he took up the position in Dublin to improve himself.

"It was the right decision," the Stormers boss said, adding: "It was very stimulating to work with different international coaches, different cultures - how they see the game.

"There were Australians, New Zealanders, Englishmen and Irishmen.

"It was very stimulating to see how everyone thinks about the game and also how they see us as South Africans.

The experience I gained in the Six Nations will assist me greatly in terms of what I can do here [in Cape Town].

"I can share that with the team."

By Jan de Koning

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