'Proud' Stormers seek redemption
'Proud' Stormers seek redemptionSHARE
The Stormers returned from Australasia under the weather, but coach Allister Coetzee knows that they have to get back up and fight for whatever they can get.
It is an unfamiliar position for the Stormers, who have won the South African conference the past two years and played in the Super Rugby Final in 2010.
It was a dismal tour for the side from the Cape, as they only managed to taste victory once – when they snuck past the Hurricanes 18-16 in Palmerston North.
Despite their play-off hopes hanging by less than a thread, Coetzee is adamant that there is still a lot for his side to play for.
"We are a very proud team and, yes, it is tough to get into the top six but there is a lot of pride at stake for us," Coetzee said on Wednesday.
On the road the Stormers did not lose a game by more than 10 points, but it seems that throughout the season converting those small margins into victories is where the Stormers have let themselves down.
"In five games we lost in the last five minutes and all of them were less than 10 points – with the Rebels being the biggest margin," Coetzee explained.
Although this insecure squad of players will grasp at whatever positive they can, the loss at home to Crusaders before they departed on tour is something that still haunts them.
The importance of winning home games is paramount in trying to win this tournament and a tight loss like that can hurt your chances – and confidence – almost irreparably.
The words 'relegation match' have been brandished around quite liberally in recent weeks, with the surprising success of the Southern Kings, and when approached with this question Coetzee was incredibly frank in his response.
"I stay in the moment and that is what I am doing and we are focusing on the Reds.
"The South African conference is a very tight affair and a tough one and there are still a lot of games to be played," he added bluntly.
A tough opening five weeks to the tournament is something that Coetzee blames for his sides lack of self confidence.
"We had a hard start to the tournament and lost some self confidence so it our task as the coaching staff is to restore the self confidence in the team," the coach mentioned.
The Stormers' defence-based game plan has been highly publicised and is seems that Coetzee is now sacrificing winning rugby for entertaining rugby.
"We are trying to evolve our game a bit now.
"Obviously you are going to make a few more errors, which is probably why we are losing at the moment," Coetzee said.
The misfortune and inability of the Stormers to win has not dented the confidence and belief of the coach who still maintains that he has got the best players to get his side a win this weekend against the Reds.
"We understand where we are and it is not a good position to be in but as a team and character around this team I am very positive about where we are.
"We are not rolling over, we not giving up and we are never giving in and that is giving me some satisfaction," he added positively.
The Stormers game against the Reds at DHL Newlands on Saturday is being used as a vehicle to raise funds for former Western Province centre Tinus Linee who has been diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease.
By Nick Tatham