The DHL Stormers have put in a lot of work on and off the field in preparation for their clash with the Sunwolves in Singapore this weekend.
Head Coach Robbie Fleck’s team will be looking for their fourth consecutive win of the season when they run out at the National Stadium on Saturday, but they will not be taking anything for granted with memories of a tough 17-17 draw last year at the same venue still fresh in the mind.
Fleck said that their preparation has been markedly different this year, with more time in Singapore giving them the opportunity to train and plan carefully for the threats that the Sunwolves will pose.
“Last year we travelled a little bit later and we weren’t able to train at all because of the weather.
“The guys have done the hard yards this week, no only on the training field, but off the field as well. Our detail and our preparation has been good so we are looking forward to the game on Saturday.
“We have made it quite clear that it is a tough place to come and play, because of the environment, the conditions and the opposition,” he said.
With a number of players sidelined through injury and others unavailable due to the Springbok management plan, there are a few new faces in the DHL Stormers line-up with 19-year-old utility forward Cobus Wiese in line to make his Vodacom Super Rugby debut, prop Caylib Oosthuizen set for his DHL Stormers debut whilst locks JD Schickerling and Jan de Klerk and scrumhalf Godlen Masimla will all be making their first appearances of the season.
Fleck said that he is excited to see what the new players offer as they continue to build depth, but added that it is his responsibility to manage the talented youngsters carefully in order to make the most of their potential going forward.
“This team is developing nicely and it gives us an opportunity to build a bit of depth which you need in this competition.
“We have got a lot of good youngsters in the squad and we certainly are developing for the future. There is a plan for those players, we need to look after them and manage them. We can’t expose them too quickly or too early, we need to bring them into the set-up with experienced players around them who can help them,” he said.
The DHL Stormers coach is looking forward to seeing what Wiese will bring this weekend as he becomes the fourth DHL Stormers player to make his Vodacom Super Rugby debut this season after Damian Willemse, Jaco Coetzee and Justin Phillips all got an opportunity in the victory over the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.
“Cobus was outstanding in pre-season for us and has played with all of the guys, so this is the perfect opportunity for him. He is a hard-working player with a good work ethic, he is a big boy but he throws his body around which is needed out here. The consitions will suit him because he is one of the fittest players in the squad,” he said.
World Sevens player of the year Seabelo Senatla will be making his first start of the season as well and Fleck said that it will be up to his teammates to give him the time and space he needs to make an impact on the wing.
“We all know what a quality rugby player he is, but in 15s there obviously is not as much space as there is in Sevens.
“When he has got ball in hand and he has got a bit of space he is going to be devastating.
“If we do our job correctly and create space for him, and give him good opportunities then we will see the special Seabelo,” he added.