Fleck defends Bok lock
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck defended Pieter-Steph du Toit after the lock's error-ridden performance against the Sunwolves last weekend.
The 24-year-old Springbok has had a dip in form during the 2017 season so far and his performance at Newlands last week did not help his cause one bit.
Du Toit made a number of handling errors against the Japanese outfit and he missed a whopping seven tackles on defence.
However, the Bok lock still made a number of telling carries, which helped side get over the advantage line on a few occasions. This aspect of his game still makes him an important cog in the Stormers side for their clash against Bulls and for the play-offs as well.
"The scoreboard said one thing, but from a team perspective and the individual's perspective we didn't play to what we wanted to do and to our high expectations," said Fleck.
"It's tough to single out one player in that performance. Obviously, Pieter-Steph is a big Springbok for us. One thing we cannot fault is his work ethic, his work rate on the field and his ability to get involved.
"When a player is involved in so many aspects of the game, obviously he is going to be highlighted - he stands out. Yes, he made mistakes, but so did everybody else in that game.
"From our perspective, we just got to keep encouraging him. Obviously, he wants to perform well for the team.
"He was one of many players who had an off day, but one thing about him he is everywhere and he is working incredibly hard. In a game like that, yes, he made a few mistakes, but it was because he was always around the ball and he was always making an effort.
"We are pretty happy with him. There are certain things that he is working hard on in his game. He is desperate to perform well. I will rather have someone like that making mistakes than [a player] not doing anything at all."
Meanwhile, Fleck will also be eager to see how his back three performs against the Bulls in Pretoria.
Dillyn Leyds, Cheslin Kolbe and Seabelo Senatla flourished in the open space in the match against the Sunwolves, but they will be marked men at Loftus Versfeld.
"We know what they [Leyds, Kolbe and Senatla] can do in space and we know what they can do in broken play and on the counterattack.
"It is in that structured part of the game that we want to see them, where there is a good solid defensive line and I feel the Bulls can present that, especially when it comes to a game like this.
"That is what we are going to face when we face a Kiwi team. The Chiefs have conceded the least amount of tries in the competition I think and we all know what the Hurricanes' line speed does and it puts us under pressure, so ideally, we would like to see how they go in a more structured environment.
"That is why we were disappointed last week because we could not see any of our patterns, we could not see any of our structure and we could not see our set piece because it was just the nature of the game. But this weekend certainly presents an opportunity for that. They [back three] certainly went well, but let us see how they go this weekend," Fleck added.
By Warren Fortune