Stormers face tough 'mental' challenge

Mon, 01 May 2017 10:33

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Stormers will not change their attacking philosophy, despite taking two brutal beatings on their tour of New Zealand.

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck admitted his team faces a tough mental challenge heading into the third and final tour match - against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday.

However, despite conceding a heap of tries in their two tour matches, they are not going to depart from their expansive frame of mind.

The Stormers have lost by an aggregate 38-114 (19-57 average) in their last two matches.

That becomes 54-143 if the loss to the Lions in their last home match, before the tour, is included - an average losing margin of 18-48.

The Stormers have conceded 17 tries in their last two matches and 21 in the last three matches. In stark contrast, they have scored just six in those three matches.

Fleck spoke of his team 'fighting tough' after defeats to the Crusaders (24-57) and Highlanders (14-57) on tour, but admitted the biggest battle is the struggle to remain positive.

"It is tough when you take results like we have in the last two weeks," Fleck said in a teleconference from the team's base in Wellington.

He admitted they are conceded too many points, 17 tries in the last two games.

"We were close in both games up to the half-hour mark and then we got blitzed in the 10 minutes before half-time," the Stormers coach said.

He added that in the first six weeks when they made mistakes the teams weren't good enough to expose them.

"Over here [in New Zealand] they are pretty brutal," Fleck said, adding: "One bad kick, turnover possession or a bad decision on defence these teams expose you.

"It is tough for the guys, because as a team we want to play more rugby.

"We are still pretty much up there in terms of attack. The biggest problem is coughing up possession.

"As I mentioned last week, the line-speed [of the opposition defence] has been tough for our guys.

"It is because we're playing more rugby, but it is part of the learning process.

"The biggest challenge after two losses like that is staying positive.

"We have been as constructive as we can with our feedback to the team.

"The players are disappointed and hurting, but we have to get up - we have a job to do.

"We are facing the best attacking team in the competition."

He dismissed the notion that the Stormers will take a more conservative approach to end their losing streak.

"Our approach ill be the same," the coach said, adding: "We have played with courage the whole season - we won't bottle up now.

"We want to improve as a team and become a better attacking team.

"Our philosophy is not going to change."

He felt there is no better pace to learn to play attacking rugby than in New Zealand.

By Jan de Koning

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