Super Rugby Review: Stormers

Date published: July 26 2016

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With the Super Rugby semi-finalists now decided we take a look at the teams who missed out on the final four. Next up, the Stormers.

2016 was another year of disappointment for the men from the Cape, with their season going up in flames last weekend when they suffered a humiliating defeat to the Chiefs in their quarter-final at Newlands.

That means that the Stormers have now won only once out of eight play-off matches including none of their last five. Those statistics will be concerning for anyone associated with Cape Town outfit as they have produced several Springboks during that period.

Their preparations for this year's tournament were far from ideal with their appointed head coach Eddie Jones spending only two weeks in his position before resigning to take over the reins as England's boss.

Jones was replaced by Robbie Fleck, albeit on an interim basis, after the Stormers' top management blocked a move by their director of rugby, Gert Smal, to appoint former All Blacks mentor John Mitchell due to fears over his coaching style.

Despite that setback, there was plenty of optimism at the start of the campaign as Fleck revealed that the team would be moving away from the conservative game-plan employed by his predecessor, Allistair Coetzee, to play a more attacking brand of rugby.

And although the new style of play yielded some impressive results during the season, notably in their opener against the Bulls and during the latter stages of the league phase of the tournament – against the Rebels, Force and Kings – there were occasions where it didn't have the desired effect especially in losses at home against the Sharks and Waratahs.

The departures of Nic Groom, Vincent Koch and legendary Springbok Schalk Burger, to Premiership sides Northampton and Saracens, will be keenly felt as they all impressed at different stages during the season.

Meanwhile the emergence of talented youngsters like fly-halves Jean-Luc du Plessis, Robert du Preez and Brandon Thomson, lock JD Schickerling and wing Leolin Zas has been a positive, as well as the form of Springbok locks Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth who were dominant in most of their matches.

The manner of their quarter-final loss Chiefs will be a concern though and with Fleck still uncertain whether he will continue in his current role, the 2016 campaign will be viewed as yet another underachieving one for the men from the Cape.

Best player: Signing Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit from the Sharks at the end of the 2015 season was a major coup and the 23-year-old has justified his move with several superb performances. Du Toit was at the forefront of the Stormers' forward effort throughout the tournament and his second row partnership with fellow Bok Eben Etzebeth has blossomed into arguably the best in the competition. Du Toit's value to the Stormers cause was best illustrated when, despite being a new member in the squad, he was handed the responsibility of making their line-out calls, a job which he has done with aplomb and he also scored three tries during their campaign.

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