Cape Town - Western Province president Thelo Wakefield says changes will be made to the Stormers coaching and management team after a crisis meeting was held in Brisbane on Sunday.
The Stormers have made their worst start to a Super Rugby season since 2001 after losing their fourth game out of five in going down 25-15 to the Brumbies in Canberra. Their only victory was also a fortunate one as they held out 19-18 against the Hurricanes at Newlands in round two.
Having lost all three matches on tour - against the Crusaders, Chiefs and Brumbies - Wakefield told the Cape Times on Sunday from Brisbane that the time to act had arrived after he and Stormers chairman Sam Dube met with head coach Allister Coetzee and the rest of the team management on tour.
“It is very disappointing, and it is not what I expected. I placed my faith in the team. I met with the management tonight, and I can say that some hard words fell, and they know exactly what to expect,” he said.
“I informed the management this evening that there will be a couple of changes, and we are looking at all areas of the management – be it coaching or medical or whatever. The players are our most important assets, and at this stage, I need to look at the full monty – from a psychological level right down through to medical services.
“There will be additions to management, and we know exactly where we lack expertise. I cannot give names at this stage of who it might be.”
Asked whether Coetzee and assistant coaches Matthew Proudfoot and Robbie Fleck would be fired, Wakefield said: “I’m not going to answer that. As I say, we need an overhaul of the management team, and I am prepared to make it now.
“I cannot allow the Stormers team to deteriorate any longer. If I need to take action, I will take action. If it must be on the 31st of March, it will be on that date, or even before that time. But I cannot prolong it any longer. I need to make certain recommendations to my board. I have consulted widely already. I have consulted with my board, and my board supports me 100 percent. So, that is it.”
One of the major challenges for Coetzee and his management has been a lengthy injury list this season. Wakefield said the injury situation has been taken into consideration. “This is our third defeat on tour, and I honestly thought that we could turn the tour around with a win against the Brumbies. If we had done that and won against the Reds (this coming Saturday), we would’ve had a 50 percent success rate on tour, plus a bonus point,” he said.
“I accede that we have a lot of injuries, and we need to go and do research as to why we have such a lot of injuries. I also need to look at the psychological effect on the players – if they keep on losing, they could tell themselves ‘this team cannot win anymore’. I need to look at the confidence levels.
“I accept that the supporters are up in arms, and that they are highly disappointed.”
The names of former Stormers coach Gert Smal, and Brendan Venter – who was part of the Stormers set-up under Rassie Erasmus a few years ago, and who won the Currie Cup with the Sharks last year – have been mentioned in recent months as possible acquisitions for the Cape side as a director of rugby or to act as consultants.