Change always brings fear in itself
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee was full of praise for the attacking intent his team showed in their bonus-point win against the Highlanders.
Since hitting the bottom of the log earlier in the season the Stormers have been talking about trying to play a more balanced game with more attacking intent, and they backed that up at Newlands on Saturday with an encouraging performance.
Although their defence was exposed at times as the Highlanders ran in four tries of their own, Coetzee was pleased with the way the team embraced their new approach, as they held on to the ball and ran it at the Highlanders whilst also enjoying a big territorial advantage.
"Against any New Zealand side you have got to pitch up with massive intensity, physicality and work rate and we showed that both on attack and defence.
"There has been a massive improvement in our transition from defence to attack, that was much better than last week.
"The players made that step up in terms of backing what we are doing, some people might say we are sitting between two chairs by going for more attacking intent, then when you make a couple of mistakes you get into that fear of losing thing," he said.
The Stormers coach said that the decision to adapt their approach from the ultra-defensive mindset of the past few years was made to suit the exciting young players coming through the ranks.
"The big thing is that you look at the players that you sit with in the team and the culture that they want. There are a lot of young players coming into the system and there is a different feel.
"The other thing is that if you don't have the personel to be confrontational at all costs with accurate kicking then surely you can't play that game.
"Our biggest thing was always a balance, there is no one way that you can play this game and be successful but I think the best way is to accomodate everyone.
"Like a player like Cheslin Kolbe who has got the feet to step, are you going to use him for kick-chase and contests in the air, you need to give him the ball in some space so his running skills can come out," he said.
He added that although making the change had been somewhat daunting, it was particularly gratifying to see his side take the game to a dangerous team like the Highlanders.
"Change always brings fear in itself, but you will never know until you do it and I think it has changed for the better definitely.
"What do players chat about after a game? They chat about the exciting things, about how I put you away in that half-gap or how we double-tackled someone.
"We want to score tries, that is what the people want to see here at Newlands and we have got the athletes who are exciting runners and steppers so I think it is the right thing to do," he said.
However, Coetzee acknowledged that there is still plenty of room for improvement, having wasted a few good attacking opportunities and getting exposed by some clever grubbers behind their defensive line.
"If you look at how their tries were scored I thought it was clever play from them to put it in behind, there is nothing much you can do defensively even if you have a good solid line to cover all the holes," he said.
By Michael de Vries