Super Rugby

Stormers seek balance in loose trio

Cape Town - Kobus van Dyk is the guy Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has turned to in an effort to provide balance to his loose trio ahead of Saturday's clash against the Hurricanes in Wellington. 

It is the last match in what has been a nightmarish New Zealand tour for the Capetonians after losses to the Crusaders (57-24) and Highlanders (57-14). 

The Stormers have shipped 17 tries in those two matches and defence is obviously a major concern for them this weekend against the tournament's most attacking side, and things got even worse for coach on the injury front when second row giants Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit were sent home with niggles at the start of the week. 

Du Toit had started both the Crusaders and Highlanders matches in the No 7 jersey as Fleck looked to find some muscle in a loose trio that has been without the injured (ankle) workhorse Rynhardt Elstadt.

Du Toit put in the hard yards in both of those matches, making his tackles and carries, but in his absence Fleck felt that he needed to bring in a new element of ruggedness for what is considered a near-impossible task against the Hurricanes. 

It comes in the form of the 22-year-old Van Dyk, whose only cap of the season so far came off the bench against the Highlanders last weekend. 

It may seem a big call from Fleck, given that he has three fit and experienced loose forwards in the form of Nizaam Carr, Siya Kolisi and Sikhumbuzo Notshe at his disposal, but the concern is that those three players offer too much of the same qualities. 

"We have been battling a little bit there to find the right balance in our loose trio," Fleck said from New Zealand on Wednesday.

"Siya (Kolisi), Nemo (Carr) and Notshe all play pretty similar games. They're pretty loose and effective when it's an open game but we needed someone who can do the dirty work for us and free up the likes of Siya and Nemo.

"For us Kobus van Dyk is a great lineout option, like Rynhardt, and he is also a hard working player. He doesn't mind getting his hands dirty, looking after the breakdown, securing possession and making his tackles.

"It certainly does give us that balance that we are looking for in our loose trio. I'm looking forward to seeing how he goes. He is an honest, hard-working player and that's what we need from this game."

Elstadt did join Juan de Jongh, flyhalf Damien Willemse and prop Caylib Oosthuizen in New Zealand this as Fleck out in an emergency SOS for some reinforcements. 

But despite all of those players being fit, only Oosthuizen was selected in Fleck's matchday 23. 

It seemed a strange decision, especially given the troubles in the loose trio and De Jongh's experience. 

"I'm happy that they've made it over and they're contributing on and off the field," Fleck said.

"For us to push them without even having played a minute of rugby prior to this game could have been a risk for them.

"It's great to have them on tour and training with us and it's good for them to spend some time with us and try prepare for the weeks ahead.

"When they get back to Cape Town they can hit the ground running because they've already been part of the team. There were more reasons than one for just bringing them over and all four players that did come over were looked at for selection but only Caylib was required at the end of the day."

They may be up against it, but Fleck maintains that on their day, the Stormers can beat anybody.

"We have to believe that. It's been a tough tour and we've been disappointed with results but there is still plenty of positives to take a way from it, on and off the field," he said.

"The spirit in the camp is high and there are a lot of youngsters here fighting to be recognised. On any given day this team can beat anyone. Yes, there are a lot challenges and youngsters and injuries, but the guys are pumped and keen to go out there and play and that's all I can ask for as a coach."

Kick-off on Friday is at 09:35.



15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (captain), 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Vaea Fifita, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ben May

Substitutes: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 James Blackwell, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Ben Lam


15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi (captain), 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak

Substitutes: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Oli Kebble, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Dan Kriel, 23 Bjorn Basson

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