Fleck: I'm a better coach now
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck believes he is now better prepared to coach at Super Rugby level. Warren Fortune reports.
The 41-year-old was given the head coaching role on a temporary basis ahead of the 2016 season after Eddie Jones left Cape Town to coach England.
Fleck guided the Stormers to the quarterfinals in last year's tournament. They were eventually smashed 21-60 by the Chiefs in that notorious quarterfinal match in front of their home fans at Newlands.
Fleck has since been given a three-year contract to stay on as head coach and he is ready to prove that he can coach at this level of the game.
"The break that I had after Super Rugby was a huge help," Fleck told reporters at the team's base in Bellville.
"I went on a professional development and spent some time abroad gaining some insight on how other coaches and teams operate. It was a huge opportunity to develop myself.
"Just the experience of coaching in Super Rugby for the first time as a head coach has given me a lot of confidence this year. Regardless of results, I feel that I am better prepared.
"I planned on the backfoot last year because it was a late appointment. I had to get the buy-in from these guys [players], which takes time. They had to get faith and confidence in me and I feel that I am in a far better spot this year.
"That will reflect in terms of our management. It will reflect on how we operate here. You want your coach to be better prepared and more confident and I guess I am in that space at the moment. I feel that I got a better line of communication with my senior players.
"They [players] understand me better, they understand where I want to go.
Meanwhile, the Cape side has scrapped their co-captaincy plan and will instead go the traditional route with a captain and vice-captain.
"The captains have been appointed and it still needs to be announced to the team and we will do that tomorrow [Tuesday]. There will be a captain and a vice-captain - no co-captains," said Fleck. who was flanked by Eben Etzebeth and Siyamthanda Kolisi.
"I did it [co-captaincy] last year because I thought we had a young leadership group and I thought it was important that we built a team around the co-captains.
"However, the senior players within the group thought that it was important that there was one figurehead and a very strong vice-captain that supported him.
"Our leadership group, with Juan de Jongh out now through injury, consists of seven guys and those seven will support the two leaders in the group. We are trying to build a strong leadership group that way."
Fleck admitted he had a difficult time formulating his leadership group.
"It was a difficult process, but a very good one to go through. I feel like there are some serious leaders who are starting to come through and that made the decision a little more difficult," he added.
The Stormers begin their 2017 campaign with a match against the Bulls at Newlands on Saturday.
By Warren Fortune