Fleck to follow Eddie Jones' template

Robbie Fleck (Gallo Images)
Robbie Fleck (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - One of the major attractions of having Eddie Jones at the helm of the Stormers was the promise of a new, attacking brand of rugby at Newlands. 

Jones, the mastermind behind Japan's stellar 2015 Rugby World Cup performances, arrived at the Stormers with the mindset that rugby has shifted from pure physicality to a greater emphasis on skill, pace and execution. 

It was something that the Stormers, known for their defensive resilience under Allister Coetzee, craved as they looked to be the pace-setters in South Africa in their bid for a maiden Super Rugby title. 

Now with Jones gone and Robbie Fleck in charge, Stormers fans could be forgiven for being a little concerned. 

But the former Springbok centre has reassured supporters that the franchise is moving in the same direction as the one that Jones promised. 

"Over the years I’ve been a part of something special where we’ve built certain strong foundations in the way we’ve played ... the old Stormers in terms of a great defensive game which has got us to many finals and semi-finals," Fleck said.

"But I’ve also been part of the process now with both Eddie and Gert (Smal) in terms of challenging the status quo and changing the way we want to play. I’ve been part of that process for the month or so ... as a coach I’m really excited.

"The players have completely bought in. We’ve had to change the way we train and the way we see the game. We’ve worked incredibly hard on that over the last couple of weeks." 

Fleck says that the players will have to be a lot fitter if they want to play a more expansive game in 2016, and that this formed a major part of the discussions he had with Jones - before he left - at the start of pre-season.

"If we wanted to play a certain way there were things that needed to come in place. One was a big emphasis on creating super athletes ... the conditioning was a massive part of it," he said.

"We felt that we weren’t fit enough as a side.

"Tactically, we needed to be smarter and play smarter rugby ... especially when it comes to our kicking game and our attacking game.

"Another component was discipline, and that’s something that we have to work very hard on. We still have to have that hard edge, that strong defence that we’ve got, but we’re certainly going to change the way we approach and view the game ... we are going to be smarter and we certainly are going to have more of a go." 

The Stormers start their Super Rugby campaign when they host the Bulls on February 27, and that will be the first test of how far along they have come.

"If we look at the World Cup and the intensity and the brand of rugby that was played ... the game is moving a certain way," said Fleck.

"Nobody can deny that and we are going to embark on that path."

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