JON CARDINELLI chats to Robbie Fleck about the Stormers’ plans to neutralise Morne Steyn.
The Bulls have racked up some monumental victories over the past few seasons, and Steyn has so often been the difference in the matches that matter. He kicked a difficult penalty to win the 2009 Currie Cup semi-final at Newlands. When the Bulls hosted the Stormers in the 2010 Super 14 final in Soweto, Steyn and Fourie du Preez produced a tactical kicking masterclass to compromise the Cape side’s defence.
But Steyn was well contained when the Stomers visited Loftus Versfeld earlier this season. The home pack was bullied, and so the Bulls’ halfbacks struggled to impose themselves without front-foot possession.
It’s for this reason that Fleck isn’t too worried about the Steyn factor ahead of Saturday’s game. It’s a massive fixture in terms of what’s at stake for the Bulls and Stormers, but the formula for success will be much the same.
‘The Bulls tend to be more adventurous in the early stages, they like to try a few different things at the start of a game. But it shouldn’t take them too long to revert to what they do best. They have a game plan that has won trophies, and when they execute it, like they did in that game against the Sharks, they are hard to stop,’ Fleck told keo.co.za.
‘Their forwards really come at you and they try to put even more pressure on you with their fantastic kicking game. But we have to back ourselves to stand up to that challenge. We have managed to nullify the effect of their kicking game in the past, so it’s by no means a daunting prospect. It all starts with fronting up physically, that will go a long way to negating the impact of their kickers.’
The Stormers have opted to bench their best tactical kicker in Dewaldt Duvenage, and not much is known of Kurt Coleman’s ability with the boot. The 21-year-old flyhalf did well in front of goal last week, kicking five from six, but wasn’t asked to kick much out of hand.
Fleck believes Coleman has the full range of skills to be a success, and added that he should receive the necessary platform from his forwards.
‘He was nervous in that Brumbies game, you could see it in the way he played. On occasion, he sat too deep in the pocket instead of taking the ball flat and getting involved.
‘We told him that we wanted him to take more control in the next match against the Rebels, and his response was incredible. He bought into the change of mindset and really exceeded everybody’s expectations.
‘Obviously a Stormers vs Bulls game is a very different prospect, but he’s made an improvement in all departments, so there’s good reason to feel encouraged.’
On Wednesday, Schalk Burger highlighted the Bulls’ experience and ability to win tight matches as a real threat to the Stormers’ chances. Fleck agreed that the Bulls shouldn’t be taken lightly, but pointed to the growth of this Stormers team over the course of their 2011 campaign. If they fall short this weekend, it won’t be for a lack of unity.
‘We matured as a group on that tour to Australasia. It goes to show how a tour can bring people closer together.
‘By the end, we were in a really good head space and were playing some decent rugga too. There were some difficult times and we were honest with ourselves after the match against the Chiefs, but that only made us tighter as group.’