Fleck comfortable with Dobson as his successor at Stormers

11 March 2019 - 17:31 By Craig Ray
Robbie Fleck will be replaced by John Dobson at the end of the current Super Rugby season.
Robbie Fleck Robbie Fleck will be replaced by John Dobson at the end of the current Super Rugby season.
Image: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said that he is comfortable that the franchise announced John Dobson as his successor for 2020‚ just three weeks into the current campaign.

Fleck is in the fourth year of his contract‚ which expires on October 31‚ and he has always indicated that he wouldn’t stay on beyond that.

But the timing of naming his replacement could be viewed as undermining the coach‚ although Fleck did not see it that way.“

From my side this plan has been in the making for a long time. I’m happy it has come out because it will help us focus on 2019‚” Fleck said.“

Dobbo has been part of the group since last November and now we can get on with our jobs and coach freely. The players also have clarity now and direction in terms of the current management and beyond.

“We have to keep an eye on 2020‚ hence Dobbo’s appointment. I have been in discussion with the company for months about vacating the role‚ and now we can say there is a succession plan.

“Every journey comes to an end and mine here at the Stormers is on October 31‚ 2019. Until then my job is to make this a winning team and a safe environment to operate in with the help of John and the other coaches.

“The big challenge for John is going to be contracting players and securing a strong player base because we have built up a strong squad. But 2019 is the end of an era and it’s up to us to convince as many players as possible to stay at WP and the Stormers.”

One of the reasons for the announcement was to give the players clarity on the future. In the fourth-year of a World Cup cycle there is invariably a lot of player movement‚ but Western Province want to stem the bleeding as much as possible.

“In an ideal world we wouldn’t be having this conversation until after the campaign‚” Dobson said.

“Fleckie and his team have worked hard for three years and this is the culmination of that cycle.“I would have preferred it to happen later but one mustn’t be naïve because this is the end of a four-year cycle‚ not only here‚ but across the world.

“So you don’t want to be going into a quarterfinal later this year with a player looking over his shoulder because he is in contract negotiations with an overseas club.“

I believe the players are genuinely happy here but at the end of a World Cup cycle‚ with some senior players in their late 20s‚ we would be naïve to think they will all stay.“

That’s why we have to blood some youngsters such as Trokkie (Juarno Augustus) and Damian (Willemse) and others because we won’t keep everybody.”