Stormers arrive to a country still in shock looking to end 10-match losing streak in New Zealand
The Stormers arrived in New Zealand on Monday‚ to a country in mourning and shock after the slaughter of 49 innocent people at two Christchurch Mosques last week.
It’s understandable that coach Robbie Fleck was unsure what to expect in these trying times for a country that was always seen as one of the safest in the world.
“We haven’t been briefed on any additional security measures yet‚” said Fleck soon after they touched down in the capital.
The act of terrorism carried out on two Mosques by white supremacists does appear to be a specific and targeted act against Muslims rather than an attack on the general New Zealand population.
Super Rugby will go on and the Stormers will face the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday‚ attempting to end a 10-match losing streak in New Zealand.
That is followed by a clash against the Blues in Auckland a week later.
Against the Hurricanes‚ the Stormers will go into the match without Eben Etzebeth‚ who has concussion‚ while it is likely to be Pieter-Steph du Toit’s only appearance of the tour.
Du Toit’s wife is expecting their first child any day now and the big back rower is set to jump on a plane at the first sign of the baby’s imminent arrival.
Cobus Wiese‚ who made his first appearance of the campaign during last week’s 35-8 win over the Jaguares at Newlands‚ won’t feature against the Hurricanes as he will have to play the next three games on tour in place of Du Toit.
Lock Salmaan Moerat was included in the Stormers’ 27-man touring squad and is likely to see some action off the bench with Chris van Zyl set to start in place of Etzebeth.
After three wins in a row the Stormers are on a good run and are hoping to take that momentum into their clash against the Hurricanes this weekend.
“We can take a lot of good things out of this game (against the Jaguares) on tour‚ where we are going to be severely tested‚” Fleck said.
“It is a different kettle of fish playing in New Zealand‚ than it is in our own back yard.
"But there are some players in this group that have won there [in New Zealand] before and we can take the confidence from this match [against the Jaguares] and know that it is not impossible to win in New Zealand.
“The tempo of the games would be of a much higher standard and certainly the width that the New Zealand sides attack with will be a test. We are going to have to be pretty sharp.”
“There is a lot to work on‚ but tactically we are going to have to be pretty smart that we have to control the tempo of the game‚ because that is what the kiwis love to do.
“They love to speed things up‚ they are pretty physical at the breakdown; they like to get their ascendency there.
“We have got some work to do now to put our work in and present a decent plan to the players on Monday.
“There is good energy in the group‚ for the first time in a long time we are going overseas with a pretty decent squad.”