History not on Stormers' side

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 13:08

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Stormers are determined to make history when they face the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.

The Capetonians have never beaten the seven-time champions in New Zealand and will enter the match on the back of their first defeat of the season - after they went down 16-29 to the Lions in Cape Town last Saturday.

The Crusaders, on the other hand, are still unbeaten in this year's tournament and were sitting pretty at the top of the combined Super Rugby standings before the Hurricanes' win over the Brumbies on Friday.

"We are playing against a team full of All Blacks and the Stormers franchise has never won in Christchurch," said Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck.

"It is a big challenge for this young group and I am pleasantly surprised by the vibe in the group. We enjoy touring as a group and we are looking forward to this game."

Fleck believes that new Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has restored some traditions that have made the Christchurch team such a force in the past.

"What makes them great is obviously their history," Fleck added. "These guys have been champs so many times. It is their culture that is so strong and Scott Robertson, who is a former player, has definitely brought those traditional aspects back to their game.

"They are strong up front and they have a strong kicking game. They have a pretty simple game plan, but it is effective.

"It is a team that is made up of All Blacks and it has always been like that. They bring through good young players and their culture is just really strong.

"It is a big challenge for us, but that is what we are excited about. It is one for the history books and if we can break that duck then it will be awesome. It is a big challenge for a lot of our youngsters, who are playing against seasoned All Blacks. There is no bigger game, so we are looking forward to it."

Meanwhile, Fleck has made a few changes to his team for the upcoming clash.

One of the changes sees Dillyn Leyds move to his preferred position of fullback in the absence of Sarel Marais.

"He [Marais] has been struggling with his groin over the last two weeks and the best option for us going forward was to give him a complete break this week so that he can be fit and ready again for the rest of the tour.

"He is not even training at the moment and is just doing a bit of rehab.

"With Dillyn, maybe it [fullback] is his preferred position and he had an outstanding game against the Sunwolves there a couple of weeks back, so it was an easy switch for us in that regard," said Fleck.

Pieter-Steph du Toit's switch from lock to blindside flank was another glaring change to Fleck's team.

"With Siya [Siyamthanda Kolisi] out with the Bok Management plan, we needed a bit of a ball carrier there at No.7 and obviously with the set-piece threat that the Crusaders present, Pieter-Steph does answer a few questions for us there in that regard," the coach added.

By Warren Fortune
@FortuneWarren
@rugby365com

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Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 17
Reds 8 2 0 6 10
Force 7 2 0 5 9
Waratahs 8 2 0 6 9
Rebels 7 1 1 5 7
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 8 0 0 36
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Highlanders 9 6 0 3 28
Blues 8 3 0 5 17
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Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 9 6 0 3 26
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Cheetahs 8 2 0 6 10
Sunwolves 8 1 0 7 5
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Lions 8 7 0 1 32
Sharks 8 5 1 2 24
Jaguares 8 4 0 4 20
Kings 8 2 0 6 10