DHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck says that his players are ready to give all they have in the Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park on Saturday.
Following the June international break Vodacom Super Rugby action resumes this weekend, and Fleck knows that the three games before the knock-out phase will be crucial for his side as they look to protect their lead at the top of Africa Conference One to secure a home play-off.
“There are three games left and we need to give absolutely everything in every game we play to qualify for the quarterfinals.
“The main thing for us is that we have to gain momentum both on the field and off the field. It is going to be three crucial weeks and the team is excited to be back and playing together.
“We have got some plans in place and we are excited to have the Springboks back and we are just excited to get out there again,” he said.
In the absence of co-captain Frans Malherbe (neck injury) and Juan de Jongh (Springbok Sevens), the DHL Stormers will be led out at AAMI Park by veteran Schalk Burger, whose leadership abilities have shone through this week for Fleck.
“It is a very easy transition for Schalk to take over, he has supported Juan and Frans very well this season and whenever they weren’t able to step up in terms of leadership he has.
“Schalk is a great captain and he has been excellent over the last two weeks, and the players have responded really well,” said the DHL Stormers coach.
With Cheslin Kolbe also currently training with the Blitzboks in preparation for the Rio Olympic Games, Fleck has called on Jaco Taute who will start his first game of the season at fullback having recently returned from a knee injury he sustained in pre-season.
Fleck said that Taute’s experience will be vital in what should be a testing environment in Melbourne.
“With the young backline that we have got we were looking for some experience and Jaco has played Vodacom Super Rugby before.
“What this team needs right now is a bit of leadership and confidence coming from a senior player, and we felt that Jaco’s communication was key and what the group needs.
“It is an important tour for us, there are a lot of young men on this tour, so a guy with his sort of leadership qualities can play a major role,” he explained.
Fleck said that his team is under no illusions about the size of the challenge ahead of them against a settled Rebels side that won the last time the two sides met in Melbourne in 2013.
“They are very tough to beat at home, it is a well-balanced side that has been together for the last two to three years under the same coaching staff.
“It is important that the players understand that we have got a big challenge ahead of us but we are very excited about what is to come this weekend,” Fleck added.