Stormers seek turnaround against Blues

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    17 May 2017     Getty Images

Coach Robbie Fleck told South African media that in spite of all their woes on the road, they remained the only team outside of New Zealand to have beaten a New Zealand side [the Chiefs].
And Fleck was staying true to the style of game the Stormers wanted to adopt.

"The Lions took five years to put their game plans into place and people are expecting us to do it within three months, so we need to put things into a little bit of perspective," he said.

Fitness, off-loading, decision-making and the breakdown were all areas of attention for the side as it looked to close the gap on New Zealand sides but it was defence that took a hammering on their tour.

"That's been the big talking point, but defence is not a stand-alone thing," Fleck said.

"Defence is coupled with what you're doing on attack, how many turnovers you do and where you do those turnovers.

"We're trying to introduce the line speed into our system which is something these players have never done before. We're going to make mistakes, but if we can learn from these mistakes and put them into place then we're going to become a better team," he said.

It had been a tough tour but the Stormers had not lost faith or confidence.

"We're excited about the path that we've chosen and we're not going to veer too far from it.

"If we come away from that tour having learnt nothing then it's a really tough tour to accept, but if we come back a better team and learn from the experience and become technically, and tactically, a better side, then it was a well-worth tour."

It was a 'short-term pain for long-term gain' experience, he said.

"We were definitely beaten by better teams on that trip. In our last four games we've probably played the best four sides in the competition, and three of them have been away. That does put things into perspective," Fleck said.

Loose forward Nizaam Carr said he felt the Stormers had closed the gap on New Zealand sides.

"I think last year the gap was a bit bigger but we've made some good progress," he said.

"We've trained better and smarter and it's a good thing for us. Nobody expected us to beat the Chiefs at Newlands. We were the underdogs, but we showed the world that we could play against them.

"We didn't do too well on tour, but at times we did put them [New Zealand sides] under pressure. We had a chat to some of the Hurricanes after the game and they said to us that they didn't know what plans to do against us…their plans weren't working. I think we're on the right track," he said.

Carr said in the quest to close the gap there had been concerns over fitness but he said they trained hard and the fitness levels were there.

"I think it's all in your preparation and how you go about that," he said.

"If you make one error, the New Zealand teams are going to score against you. So if we sharpen up on that I think we will close the gap."

There was also the luck factor.

"We're doing a lot of work behind the scenes and at times the luck doesn't go our way. Against the New Zealand teams, the bounce of the ball will go their way and they'll score off that so I think if we get a bit more luck it will definitely go our way as well," he said.