Super Rugby

Fleck has no issues with Rhule, Senatla defence

Raymond Rhule (Gallo)
Raymond Rhule (Gallo)

Cape Town - In 2017 only the Rebels, Cheetahs and Sunwolves conceded more tries than the Stormers in Super Rugby. 

By the end of the Conference stages of the competition, Robbie Fleck’s men had shipped 61 tries.

That was largely down to the troubles they experienced on their New Zealand tour, when the Stormers conceded 24 tries in just three matches against Kiwi opposition.

That period set off the alarm bells at Newlands, and when they returned from tour they made defence a priority. 

It worked, and when the Stormers went down 17-11 to the Chiefs in their Cape Town quarter-final, they conceded just one try. 

Now, with a new format to look forward to that sees all four South African franchises back in the same Conference, the Stormers are looking to get out of the blocks quickly with a clinical performance against Argentina's Jaguares at Newlands on Saturday. 

Fleck named his side for the season opener on Thursday, and while on paper it looks far too strong for the Argentines, there are a few untested areas.

One of those is the back three, where Dillyn Leyds will start at fullback while Raymond Rhule and Seabelo Senatla will take their places up on the wings. 

With defence having been a problem in 2017, the inclusion of Rhule and Senatla, in particular, are of potential concern. 

Rhule's defensive issues are well-documented, and his horror show in South Africa's 57-0 loss to the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship last year ultimately cost him his Springbok place.

The issue with Senatla, meanwhile, is how he will fit into the Stormers defensive structures, given that he has only been with the side for two weeks. 

This back three has never operated together before, and while what they offer with ball in hand is undoubtedly exciting, it is on defence where they will have something to prove. 

For Fleck, though, there are no concerns. 

"I prefer to focus on the positives, and last year we scored more than we conceded," he said at Newlands on Thursday.

"Yes we conceded some tries ... we conceded most of those tries on tour. When we got back we were a better defensive outfit."

While they finished fourth on the 'tries conceded' list, the Stormers also finished fourth in 'tries scored' with 64. Only the Crusaders, Hurricanes and Lions scored more. 

"Seabelo is in and out between Sevens and 15s and it always takes him a bit of time to adjust, but he's been with us for two weeks so that should be sufficient in terms of systems," Fleck added.

"I'm happy with the other two (Rhule and Leyds). They both read the game well and defend well, so there are no issues there.

"From a combination point of view, they're a little green in terms of knowing each other and playing a lot of games together, but each one has certain strengths and they're going to add a lot of value in terms of the way we want to play."

The Stormers are also without two of their biggest defensive assets in Eben Etzebeteh and Pieter-Steph du Toit, with both Boks out injured.

Du Toit is recovering from a back strain but is still expected to go on the Australasian tour following the Jaguares game, while Etzebeth is out for an extended period with a shoulder injury.

Kick-off on Saturday is at 15:05.



15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.

Substitutes: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Kobus van Dyk, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 George Whitehead, 23 JJ Engelbrecht.


15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertanou, 8 Tomas Lezana, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Felipe Arregui

Substitutes: TBA

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