CAPE TOWN - Stormers coach Robbie Fleck says he is excited to see how Kiwi recruit Shaun Treeby performs for the Stormers when they take on Treeby’s former team, the Highlanders, on Friday.
Treeby,signed by the Stormers on a four-month deal following injuries to centres Damian de Allende, Juan de Jongh and Huw Jones, hasn’t featured for Fleck’s team so far, although he has been training with the team for a couple of weeks.
The 28-year-old is set to make his first appearance for the Stormers in Dunedin this weekend, as the Stormers are another centre down after Dan du Plessis dislocated his shoulder during their 57-24 defeat to the Crusaders in Christchurch.
“This is a tour where there’s a lot of young kids who have never toured to New Zealand and it’s a great learning process, so to have a guy like Shaun, who’s a local and who’s played against these guys many times, is great,” Fleck said from New Zealand.
“So we’re definitely looking to give him a go this weekend, whether it’s off the bench or in the starting line-up. We’re looking forward to see how he goes.”
And while Fleck is keen to see how Treeby will boost his team, Stormers fans should be eager to see how the Stormers go against the 2015 Super Rugby champions, after that terrible beating to Scott Robertson’s team at the weekend.
Good to be back in NZ for a few weeks 😁🇳🇿
The Stormers conceded five tries in the first half - in a little less than 20 minutes to be exact - and although Fleck praised his team for their “much-improved” second half defence, he acknowledged they need to do some fixing in that area, and quickly.
“In terms of our attack - their line speed and defensive work around the breakdown put us under a lot of pressure. Defensively in the first half it was 10-3 and then suddenly we were behind by 20 points. So we need to patch up there. The second half was a better performance from us,” Fleck said.
“We had done pretty well to contain the Crusaders, who were pretty much on fire. It was just 11 minutes of pain when they put 20 points on us. Credit to our guys, they came back fighting.”
“We weren’t happy with our defence in the first half, but it was a much-improved performance in the second.”
The Stormers also struggled to match Crusaders' tempo, while Fleck specifically mentioned the Crusaders’ line speed made it a tough night...and he knows very well they will face the same problem against the Highlanders and the Hurricanes.
“The Highlanders have got a number of key All Blacks in their squad and they’re a very dangerous side, especially when playing in Dunedin. They’d have taken a lot of learning from that 10-minute period,” he said.
“We haven’t faced line speed like the Crusaders presented, and that’s something we'll certainly face again against the Highlanders and the Hurricanes.”
Fleck also praised his side’s set-pieces, and it was well-deserved, as the Stormers’ scrum held up to the opposition’s, while their lineout work was faultless, with on-the-day skipper Eben Etzebeth even poaching one of the Crusaders’ lineout balls.
Speaking of Etzebeth, Fleck also lauded the lock for the way he led the team in the place of regular captain Siya Kolisi, who was rested as part of the Springbok management plan.
“We’ll keep pushing from our side. We felt our set-piece was excellent on the weekend, so that’s pleasing. You have to have a strong set-piece when you play over here. But you have to match the tempo,” Fleck said.
“He’s making great decisions for the team and has a presence. His leadership was outstanding. When times were tough during that 10-minute period Eben really stood up and he wanted to take ownership. He led by example.”