Rassie Erasmus says the Stormers’ tactical execution let them down and expects the team to kick more in the 2010 Super 14.
The Cape franchise has come in for plenty of criticism for their 10th place finish, and even more criticism for their conservative approach. The Stormers only scored 28 tries in 13 games, and only picked up the four-try bonus on one occasion.
Erasmus, however, believes this is not because of a flawed tactical approach that favoured a specialist kicker in Willem de Waal.
‘I think it was more a case of execution than something at fault in the game plan,’ Erasmus told keo.co.za. ‘If you look at the fact that we averaged 35 kicks per match, we need to be kicking more.
‘A team like the Bulls average 44 kicks per game. I’m not saying we should be playing like the Bulls, but it’s a stat that can show how much kicking plays a part under the ELVs.
‘I’ve been wracking my brain and working to find out where we went wrong. I’ve looked back at past performances of WP and Stormers teams in the hope of finding an answer. If you look at the successful teams, they had a good kicking game. For example, the Stormers team of 1999 had Braam van Straaten at flyhalf.’
Erasmus told this website the change in the breakdown laws that see penalties replacing free-kicks in the 2010 Super 14 will actually see an increase in kicking. And at the heart of the Stormers’ booting assault will be the same man who underperformed in 2009.
‘Willem has proven himself a match-winner in three Currie Cup finals. Peter Grant is also an option, and I think if we look at what else is out there in South Africa, I don’t think we can do better at flyhalf at the moment,’ said Erasmus.
‘South Africa are lacking a bit for No 10s. At Western Province and the Stormers we have a few young guys coming through like Coenie van Wyk, otherwise we have to work with Willem and Bash.’
Erasmus spoke about the poor execution in 2009 and seemed to be at a loss to suggest a solution. No kicking specialist will be appointed between now and next February, and it’s not like Percy Montgomery will be around either given he is the Springboks’ new kicking consultant.
‘I’ll admit that with Percy, Willem, Peter and a Springbok like Ricky Januarie in the mix, I didn’t think we would need more input when it came to kicking,’ said Erasmus. ‘When Louis Koen [Stormers' kicking coach in 2008] told us he would be staying with Boland, it did throw us a bit of a curve ball.
‘We have sent Greg Hechter [current kicking coach] on a few courses and we’re confident we’ll improve.’
Montgomery and AJ Venter have retired while Schalk Brits is heading up to English club Saracens. Brian Mujati will join Northampton after the 2009 Currie Cup. Erasmus admits that while the front row will need to step up, the second row is the real concern despite the recent acquisition of Chris Jack.
‘We are a bit thin in some positions and I think we need another quality lock if we’re going to think about winning the Currie Cup,’ said Erasmus. ‘Also in positions like centre we are a bit short on back-up.’
By Jon Cardinelli