Cape Town - Legendary former Western Province lock Hennie Bekker has expressed his concern at the Stormers’ performances in Super Rugby.
After starting the season with six wins on the trot, the Stormers have lost their last three matches.
The conceded four tries in a 29-16 reverse at home to the Lions before crushing back-to-back defeats to the Crusaders (57-24) and Highlanders (57-14) on tour in New Zealand.
Alarmingly, the Capetonians have leaked 17 tries in their last two games and according to Bekker, there’s a lack of commitment on defence.
“You can talk for hours about the defence. The Stormers’ defence is a source of great concern. My feeling is that they have no defensive pattern,” Bekker said on SuperSport's Afrikaans rugby programme SuperRugby on Monday night.
“Defending is all in your head, if you don’t want to tackle then you won’t tackle. At this stage it feels like the guys would rather play flashy rugby instead of doing the dirty work.”
Bekker, who played 108 matches for Western Province between 1974 and 1985 and two Springbok Tests in 1981, said defence is part and parcel of rugby and that the Stormers are currently neglecting it.
“During our playing days, Doc Craven (Danie Craven - former SA rugby boss) had a saying “first jobs first” - it doesn’t matter how you play, you must make sure to do your (primary) job first... and defence is part of that.”
Under the coaching tutelage of Robbie Fleck, the Stormers have adopted a free-flowing attacking game style, but Bekker is not sure about the execution.
“It’s wonderful to keep the ball alive, but you get to a point where you can’t just keep passing and passing, playing from side to side... somewhere someone needs to go forward and play forward and then keep the ball alive from there," he said.
Bekker pointed to a lack of physicality in contact situations as a cause for concern.
“The Lions took them on physically and hurt them in the contact situations. For me, from that match they’ve been in decline,” he continued.
“The Stormers are being hurt at the contact situations. They have three good loose forwards, but they don’t have physical loose forwards. If you add a guy like Rynhardt Elstadt, who’s fit again, he brings another dimension and hurts guys at the contact situations."