No pressure and no excuses for Fleck and Stormers in 2019

15 February 2019 - 11:56 By Craig Ray‚ Cape Town
Robbie Fleck, head coach of the Stormers.
Robbie Fleck, head coach of the Stormers.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck had a little smile on his face when he stated that he was under no pressure this season – and for good reason – because it’s the truth.

Fleck is in the fourth year of a job he was parachuted into when Eddie Jones unceremoniously left Western Province at the altar and ran off with England. He was the Johnny-come-lately asked to mend the bride’s broken heart.

Fleck went from Under-21 coach to Stormers head coach without so much as a preseason in 2016. Although his side made the playoffs that year‚ they were aided by a weak conference‚ which was highlighted by the mauling they took from the Chiefs in the quarterfinals at Newlands.

The following year the Stormers were better‚ losing narrowly to the Chiefs at the same stage‚ but the wheels came off under a barrage of injuries and a cruel fixture list in 2018.

Fleck though‚ knows that if his team wins Super Rugby‚ he’s out of a job and if they fail miserably‚ he’s still out of a job. So he can afford to coach without the pressure of trying to save his job.

And that could liberate he and the players‚ most of whom come off contract on October 31 this year. It’s unlikely WP will cling on to their top Boks in a post-World Cup market‚ so it’s a good time for a coach to find new challenges away from the complexities of rugby in Cape Town.

But despite the liberation‚ Fleck has also built a strong squad over the previous three seasons. On paper they have the personnel to stage a challenge for the title even if the fixture list has mysteriously thrown up six away games in their first eight outings again.

Someone at the Stormers must have really wronged the head of fixture scheduling at Sanzaar.

Despite the main challenge of being in good log position by the second half of the campaign when they have six home games‚ Fleck is not looking for excuses.

“There is no pressure on my shoulders this year‚” Fleck said. “This is the last year of my contract and that’s the way I see it.

“All the coaches are going to coach with freedom this year and‚ regardless of what happens‚ we’re going to give as much energy and input to our players as we can so that they can perform.

“I’m not going to concern myself with my future. If the team performs well‚ it means that I am performing well and we’ll see what happens after that.

“We decided four years ago that this would be our year. We are over the processes now and it’s all about delivering.

“We’ve added to our game over the past few years. We’ve lost a few players along the way‚ but there are a lot of guys who have come right through from the WP Institute to the WP U21 side‚ to the Currie Cup side‚ to the Stormers side. They’ve come a long way as a group.

“Last year was a bit of a hiccup. We’ve discussed it and moved on. We’re pouring everything into this year and making no excuses.”