Fleck defends choice for midfield cover

Tue, 04 Apr 2017 18:13

REACTION: Head coach Robbie Fleck says the Stormers had no other choice but to look outside of the country for midfield cover.

Former Highlanders centre Shaun Treeby joined the Stormers on a short-term contract as cover for the injured Damian de Allende, Huw Jones and Juan de Jongh.

Fleck told reporters at the team's base in Bellville on Tuesday that they could not find an experience centre within South Africa to fill the void in his squad.

"They [De Allende, Jones and De Jongh] are all international-class centres and that is a vast amount of experience, especially at Super Rugby level," said Fleck.

"The only three remaining midfielders in the group are EW Viljoen, Dan Kriel and Daniel Du Plessis and they only got a handful of Super Rugby caps.

"The thinking behind it [Treeby joining] is that if we have one more injury in the midfield, we need to get a replacement in immediately and secondly Treeby has got vast Super Rugby experience. He played for the Highlanders and he has over 50 caps for them and he brings a wealth of experience to our setup.

"We looked within South Africa and within our own borders for a replacement, but with the type of experience we need and with the type of midfielder we needed, we went with Shaun Treeby."

The Stormers will be facing their first New Zealand opposition of the year on Saturday in the form of the Chiefs and Fleck will be looking for signs of improvement after their 21-60 thrashing to the same opponent in last year's quarterfinals.

"The motivation is there. It is the first New Zealand team of the season and it is a great opportunity for us to gauge how far we have come together as a group. 

"We can see that there are improvements, but this is the test. This is the team that put us to the sword last year and it is important that we show signs of improvement on Saturday.

"We have trained incredibly hard for this game. Whatever the result this weekend, as long as we can see that we are moving on and upwards, we will be a happy bunch," Fleck added.

Fleck knows that his team will have to match the Chiefs' high-paced tempo if they want to have any chance of beating the two-time champions.  

"The Chiefs haven't changed much over the last four years since they became the champions," said Fleck.

"They are a physical outfit. The extreme tempo and intensity that they play with is something that we could not match last year. There were stages that we felt we were trying to fight back in that game, but they just lifted the tempo again. 

"They are a difficult side to play against. They are a physical side and they pride themselves on their aggression and their physicality. 

"Tactically they are smart and they don't give you an inch in any sort of area. They are combative side, so we certainly have to take a step up and this will be something that we haven't faced this year yet. It is a good chance for us to see how far we have come."

@rugby365com

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