EXCLUSIVE: One-on-one with John Dobson
WATCH as @rugby365com editor Jan de Koning sits down with Stormers coach John Dobson for an evocative interview.
The Stormers mentor did not hold back as he spoke about everything from the suspension of Super Rugby, injuries, his coaching and the future.
Dobson explained that the #coronavirus situation is “very fluid” and caught everybody by surprise.
“It has been a hell of a knock,” he said, adding that they have “invested” a lot of time and effort into the season – starting back in October.
“Having taken it away is devastating for the player and coaches, but we understand why [the tournament has been suspended].”
He said the key is to use the free time to become “better players and better coaches” on an individual basis.
The Stormers are further deflated by having lost their last two games – against the Blues and Sharks.
“Round Seven is still very early,” he said, suggesting that should the tournament continue in some form they may be able to get back in the race.
“We have a game in hand on the log leaders and they still have to come to Cape Town.
“We would have battled with the freakish injury list we have.
“However, that is the reality of rugby.”
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He felt they should be able to do well if the bulk of their injured stars are back should the play-offs take place in June.
“We are not the same team we wrote down at the start of the season.
“Our game model was devised around the fact that we had five World Cup-winning Springbok forwards. We only have one of them left.
“We will have to change [our approach.]”
He said, despite the horror run of injuries his players showed resilience.
He also defended the decision to, proverbially, break the bank to retain the World Cup Springboks.
“It was for the good of this [Western Province/Stormers] business and for the good of South African rugby,” Dobson said.
“I am not sure it is good [for Stormers & SA Rugby] if Siya Kolisi, Steven Kitshoff and Pieter-Steph du Toit play abroad.
“We had to play to our strength and use our pack.
“That doesn’t exist anymore,” he said of the voluminous injury list.
“We have to adapt and we have ways of doing it. The injuries were cruel, but I think there is still a lot in this team.”
He also played down the suggestion that the Newlands factor was ‘overhyped’ and that players had lost focus.
“Disappointed that, potentially, the last game we played at Newlands was a defeat to the Blues,” the coach said, adding: “It would be brilliant to play again.”
Dobson admitted that as a coach he is a bit “deflated” that what promised to be a great season might be over.
“To have five of our six World Cup Springboks out is disappointing.
“It rips the soul out of the team.
“We had done the right thing, built the right team, right game plan.
“However, at times like this, we have to show leadership and enthusiasm.
“Whoever responds best to this situation will emerge best on the field when we do restart.
“Whatever format does come up, we want to be at the sharp end of that.
“Hopefully there is still rugby in South Africa this year and hopefully there is a farewell to Newlands.