Vodacom Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus said if he looks back at the recently completed Vodacom Super 14 campaign he has to say it was a failure.
The Stormers failed to live up to the high expectations after they narrowly missed out on the semi-finals last year, finishing fifth in the coach’s first season at the helm. This year they managed only tenth position, with five wins and eight defeats.
The Cape franchise scored 235 points, but conceded 249. They also scored 28 tries and conceded 29. They finished on 27 log points. The Bulls, who finished on top, got 46 league points.
“It obviously was very disappointing. The guy in the street will be looking at where we finished on the log and that is what counts,” said Erasmus as he reflected on the 2009-season.
The Stormers were ravaged by injuries to key players and Jean de Villiers, Brian Mujati, Conrad Jantjes, Bolla Conradie, Schalk Ferreira, JD Moller, Brok Harris, Schalk Burger, Nick Koster and Andries Bekker were amongst the wounded.
Erasmus didn’t want to use the injuries as an excuse, although he admitted it was difficult for the team to get momentum with all the setbacks. “The amount of injuries was a negative, bu the positive in that is that as a result a lot of youngsters got a chance and hopefully they are the guys who will come through in the Currie Cup.”
He was heartened by the performances of the less experienced players and their contribution, particularly at the latter stage of the campaign. “The youngsters won against the Force, the Highlanders and Cheetahs. Even though they were not one of the top teams in the competition those victories should give the players a lof of confidence.
“Confidence is a very big thing in rugby. Players such as Wicus Blaauw and Brock Harris showed against the Cheetahs what they are capable of and that is maybe just the boost they needed. Now they need to put up their hands in the Currie Cup.”
Erasmus said if he could change one thing about the season it would be his tactical approach to the game at the start of the season.
“I think in the first five games of the season we moved away from our structures. I want the guys to play the situation but I think we forced it too much. It didn’t work and I have to take it on the chin.
“I also think we needed to give the Springboks who came back from the end-of-year tour more time off. We needed to give them more of a mental break rather than a physical break. There were also maybe some other tactical mistakes and mistakes with team selection that I have made.”
He added that he might have got it wrong as how to play the experimental law variations (ELV’s).