Coetzee:Stormers injuries the excuse


Alister Coetzee

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says that a lack on continuity in selections due to their unusually high injury rate is the main problem that they have struggled in Super Rugby this year.

The 2011 and 2012 South African Super Rugby conference winners have dropped to the bottom of the Super Rugby standings and would be in line for a promotion/relegation match at the end of the season if the system had been retained for this year.

Coetzee says that the Stormers have been unable to recover from the regular loss of locks which started early in the season.

To date, first-choice second-row forwards like Eben Etzebeth, De Kock Steenkamp, Rynardt Elstadt, Manuel Carizza and Michael Rhodes have been on the injury list for most of the season.

Reserve talents such as Tazz Fuzani, Ruan Botha and Jean Kleyn were called up to step into the breach, but they too were sidelined with regular monotony.

The loss of first-choice hookers such as Scarra Ntubeni and Tiaan Liebenberg did not help the cause of the untried locks that were called up and the Stormers were unable to arrest the slide from grace.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said that the regular loss of tight-five players meant the side’s set-piece was unable to function satisfactorily.

“One cannot function if your set-piece is not in order and that has been at the heart of our problems,” said Coetzee.

“Locks and hookers are vital positions for functional set-pieces and many of the in-coming players were not good enough to play at this level.”

Coetzee said as a result of the “extraordinary” situation of being without five quality locks at one time, the Stormers were now looking at recruiting as soon as possible.

“It has been frustrating that we were not able to get our game together at a time when we are faced with the extraordinary position of being without five quality locks,” Coetzee said.

“We are discussing the possibility of recruiting an experienced lock because we’ve seen that you can’t blood rookie talents when the team is struggling.

“We need to dominate (in games) before we can bring in new talent.”

The Stormers have also been in the process of transforming their game so that they move away from the ultra-defensive to more attacking patterns.

“The transition has not been easy and we don’t want to go back to an out-an-out defensive game for the sake of winning,” he said.

“The way we played won games and we won the SA Conference but it was not the Western Province brand of rugby.

“We now find ourselves having to defend our own set-piece when it should really be our platform to attack. When we lose our lineout ball we end up defending instead of attacking.”

The Stormers decided to free up the players instead of training on Monday in an effort to help them prepare mentally for Saturday’s match against the Highlanders at Newlands.

“We have started planning with them (the players) and they now at least have a mental view of how we want to play,” Coetzee said.

“We want to attack more but there are guidelines where that should happen.

“After a good start (against the Cheetahs) we were flat-footed because of a lack of urgency, aggression and workrate.”

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Better known as Bunny, Took over after Pissant went over to the "Dark Side"


  1. 3 years of doing nothing but tackling. Where are those smartarses on RW who 2 years ago said the stormers gameplan had nothing to do with their high injury count?

    Defence takes a lot more concentration than attack, so Stormers guys will be mentally more tired than anyone else.

    Its bullocks. Learn to score more tries than the opposition and you should be grand!

  2. Its vital. No use your entire province plays a certain type of rugby at school and club level and you then demand your pro players to play something totally different at elite level.

    Even if they did win one Super trophy it would never be sustainable.

  3. @Jacques(Bunny):

    Not sure. I think even the players themselves realized this. I asked last year: “how much fun can it be playing for a team if you know at best you will get the ball once a game and at worst tackle for 70 minutes and then win by 3 points?”

    I just cannot see a player get up on a Monday excited to go to training if you know on Saturday you are forced to play chess and not rugby.

    Especially not WP guys growing up on a diet of seeing great flair teams chuck the ball about with skill and pace.

    I am surprised you guys put up with it for so long.

  4. 11 _ 9 2 5 7 7 9 3 9 11 10 5 10 2 2 1 7

    That’s the Stormer’s log position over the run of SR since 1996.

    2 2 1 7 looks a lot more fun than 11 10 5 10, or 7 9 3 9 or any other 4 year period they’d like to go back to for that matter.

  5. @Timeo: Timeo the game has change from that period….cannot compare that with now…..

    I do not believe in wilie nilie through the ball around…..but the defending until you dead and buried and not able to win anything does not help….

    When WP won the Currie Cup 2 years ago they were able to score tries….they had a points difference of 318-260 only the Sharks had a better points difference off 330-261, and that was in 12 matches that gives you an average of 27.5 points per match and if you take it that two of the games was play off matches it reads for blerrie good stats.

    Everyone believed they would have improved from the positive CC of 2012 but old AC and Co went back to defend your arsh off rather to build on the attacking with defending that worked for them in the CC…

  6. @Jacques(Bunny):

    No, it is PR.

    “Monkeys ask for running rugby, monkey’s are told we will start playing running rugby (but its a process)”

    It is very easy to pick up the PR keywords from this interview.

    WP Brand

    You are being told what you want to hear.

    This line makes me laugh however:

    “The transition has not been easy and we don’t want to go back to an out-an-out defensive game for the sake of winning,” he said.

    Yup – the ‘faithful’ quite enjoy losing pretty.

  7. @Morné: I think anybody thinking this will be a an easy change for WP and Stormers to get back to winning rugby (and just to make sure I said winning rugby and not running rugby)….. is making a huge mistake.

    Winning rugby is a team that is able to score tries in a game that give you that change and win games that you have to grained out…..

    HC showed this weekend you do not have to score tries to make a game exciting for supporters. Some games do not lend them for scoring freely like the Sharks vs Waratahs game a few weeks ago…which I thought was one of the best game in my perspective this season.

  8. @Jacques(Bunny):

    The only sane thing Allister said in this interview is the Stormers are struggling because of injuries to key players at various, or all stages of the competition so far.

    Plumtree got fired last year when he was in exactly the same position, the Sharks, with basically the same team this year but not limited by massive injuries are sitting on top of the log.

    The Bulls were going great guns until they got hit by a number of injuries to their forwards which even saw Vic who was only supposed to be a spectator on tour, play in 3 of the 4 games.

    The Sharks felt the full effect of injuries to key forwards on Friday night with Jannie, Bismarck & Deysel either missing the game entirely, or cry off in the opening minutes. Suddenly they had a hooker with almost zero game time having to come in (and struggle), lose the ability of Alberts in the tight-loose having have to move to lock, and a prop having to complete most of the 80 minutes.

    Continuity and key players are vital to any team in a competition like this where 100% is required every single week. Just look at how different the Cheetahs are with the addition of one player, Brussow. All of a sudden they seem to be able to tackle (which is not really the case, they just have more time to set up their defence properly thanks to his slow-ball game) and Willie is in 7th heaven with quick turn-over ball and a broken field in front of him.

    This bullshit of the “WP brand” and “attack over defence” is the biggest load of shit every sold to a rugby supporter.

  9. @Jacques(Bunny):

    If you list the problems at WP in order of priority coaches would be down between number 25 and 30 on my list.

    Coaches can only play the hand they have been dealt, and I want to see any coach deal with a loss of more than half of his preferred starting XV of which the majority of them are in the forwards.

    Then we have not even started with the talent identification and retention structures, youth contracting and coaching development – all of which contributes in a huge way to the final product which is the Stormers squad and team.

    There was only one instance in my life where I agreed with firing the coach, and I was probably wrong then too.

  10. @Morné: I see your point…..just have a feeling we are not moving forward in couches in South Africa, AC been with WP now from 2008…that’s 7 years…..Naka with Cheetahs for almost the same……Ludeke with the Bulls for the same….the only team who changed was the Sharks and I do not have to say that they are on top of the log and have the CC already in the trophy cabinet…..

  11. @Jacques(Bunny):

    Coaches should only worry about one thing, and it is a phrase which I think will need no explanation; ‘Losing the changeroom’.

    Once that happens, move on.

    If that happened at WP, then it is time for Allister to pack up.

  12. @Morné: LOL –
    This bullshit of the “WP brand” and “attack over defence” is the biggest load of shit every sold to a rugby supporter. Maybe you are too young to associate WP and running rugby? The “oldies” like myself do.

    You seem pretty sold on the idea but you will have Jan Engelbrecht, Dave Stewart, Peter Whipp, the du Plessis brothers and a host of other greats disputing that along with every schoolboy like myself who grew up watching these guys at Newlands carving up the opposition and SCORING TRIES. That Fekitoa try against the Sharks took me back to when Newlands used to come alive with the crowd roar of approval for another scintillating try that you could hear all the way from Rhodes memorial on Devils Peak.

    They defended too of course but nobody remembered who had tackled who (except for that tackle by Morne du Plessis on Naas at Loftus) and the Saturday night Argus carried pictures of try scorers diving across the line in the hooped jersey week after week.

  13. If its rotten at the top…

    You are right sometimes the coach is the scapegoat, but sadly not here he is just not good enough.
    In defence he did not let all the talent go or hire hasbeens or manage the quality of training. The top must go first otherwise it keeps making the same mistakes.

    I used to love going to Newlands or watching the game on a saturday afternoon with old man Lazarus, scoring tries from their own tryline. Now I watch the Sharks much more inspiring.

    Too long now way too long for such a large union so passionately supported not reach full potential.

  14. @out wide:

    I had this discussion a week or so ago with Brendon too.

    One simply has to look at the scores of that ‘era’ to quickly pick up that;

    a) The final score of matches in those days rarely went over 20, and
    b) The winning margins were for most games less than 10.

    I might have been young, but I remember the era very well, any WP supporter of a concious age would.

    I can only put this fascination with this era down to the fact that we did not play any international rugby, club or Springboks, apart from the odd dodgy tour.

    WP vs. N. Transvaal then is what the Springboks vs. All Blacks is today. I guess that is why tries from this era is remembered like the one Richard Bands scored against NZ in Auckland running 60 meters from a line out (actually only 35 meters) smashing 5 would-be tacklers (just Carlos) on his way to score the try of the century…

  15. As fans we only remember what we want to remember and we want to remember only the good parts.

    A few years from now we’ll wax lyrically about the great Western Defensive Wall, when WP won a Currie Cup and the Stormers finished top of the log beating all 5 NZ teams. Other teams made negative running meters and scored own tries rather than face the ferocious tackling.

  16. The fans are talking and theu are the main stakeholders in the game. The fans are saying loud and clear that they are not happy with the form of ’emtertainment’ dished up by our rugby teams, which we expect to be more talented than this.

    Its seems only Mallet understands that sport is not just about the result. Its about winning+

  17. Morne can you guys honestly say WP rugby is the same as it has been in years gone by?

    I noticed a huge shift around 2008 and remarked at the time was that WP was selling its soul for trophies. I disliked their game even then despite their success in 2010.

    They became a hard team to beat – but also made it look hard to win. Just totally un-inspiring, and this for a union with some very flashy players who should offer great value in Super rugby, which as Mallet says, should be a tournament where the ball is given lots of movement.

    At international level its win at all cost. People understand that – but why in Super Rugby pretend this is so?

    Its like a really good band standing on stage, dead still, delivering the perfect song. This is all good and well, but the concert will be wort much more if the lead guitarist has long hair which he flings about a bit while looking mean.

    Its all theater. Why does rugby (and SA rugby in particular) think its somehow more special than other forms of entertainment?

    You cannot just win. You have to want to give your fans more than that. And if you end up losing even though you try to just win – then you have to move on and give the next generation a chance.

  18. @Cheetah Glory:

    I can honestly say that WP (the Stormers) as measured against the best teams from Aus, NZ and SA, has been the best there’s ever been under Allister Coetzee.

    As compared to teams before that, one can honestly not say one thing or the other. The number of teams they competed against were too limited.

    Your other points about pleasing the fans are well made. If WP fans wants to see running rugby, WP will have to try to find players and coaches that can win and play running rugby.

    Good luck to them.
    My personal opinion is that running and winning are mutually exclusive for SA teams in Sanzar competitions.

  19. @Cheetah Glory:

    I love Mallet, but like you and me, he is sitting in a chair criticising which is just way too easy for a guy that knows how tough coaching really is.

    But he gets paid well to do it so good for him.

    The ‘product’ you mention is result driven, and you seem to forget this.

    Show me ANY fan that loves a loser?

    I have been a WP fan all my life, and I cannot for the life of me understand this fascination with this so-called ‘era’ of running rugby and beautiful tries.

    You score ‘beautiful’ tries the moment you get the basics right, the Stormers are failing at this currently for many reasons, least of which is their style or coaching staff (imo).

    The Cheetahs for all their ‘beautiful’ rugby reached the top 4/6 of Super Rugby how many times exactly?

    Sometimes I think our media is paid by the Aussies and Kiwi’s to sell our public shit making it smell like roses.

  20. @Morné: Yep you are right about the internationals -few and far between then. As infrequent as All Black tests at Newlands nowadays lol! Hence sold out grounds when WP played N Tvl etc.

    Then the gulf in what rugby supporters wanted to watch was N and S of the Hex River. N Tvl and Naas Botha epitomised 10 man rugby and while they would pay to watch that stuff at Loftus we booed the guy at Newlands when he endlessly kicked instead of making a rare linebreak.

    I can’t help feeling reading what you guys write that that gulf in desire to see running rugby and the philosophy of how to win now exists between SA and Australasia. Look at the current Superugby log, even with SA sides having played an extra round, the average number of Tries For scored by SA teams is 17, Oz sides 21 and NZ sides 23. Is it just coincidence that 4 SA sides fill the bottom half of the log?

    And if fans are only interested in who wins and not the tries scored why are bonus points given for scoring 4 tries? There the stats are even more of a wake up call. The top 2 kiwi sides , the Canes (4) and Chiefs (3) have scored more 4 try bonus points between them than all 5 SA conference sides together who have managed a miserly 6, the Cheetahs out in front with 3 of them!

    And before you point out where the Cheetahs are on the log and repeat “show me any fan who loves a loser”, over here in NZ the impartial rugby fan who pays to watch genuine rugby loves the game the Cheetahs play. They feel SA sides in general play boring rugby and it shows in the crowds and tv viewing stats – you would be surprised at how many neutral fans were willing the Cheetahs on when they made the playoffs last year. Now if Naka could get his side to stop leaking tries, they will win the game as well as winning over fans!

  21. @out wide:

    Talking about crowds and viewing stats – why are our boring teams the most supported and most watched?

    As for bonus points etc. It is a commercially driven concept to sell rugby as entertainment – BUT – don’t confuse this with a team’s commercial value through brand and sponsor association (which is result driven – brands associate with winners). I have no problem with it, I mean do you remember when the Bulls had to get a full house of log points and beat the Reds by 70-odd that one game and what subsequently happened?

    But talking about ‘entertainment’, do you think Cheetah fans are entertained with their team 2nd last on the log?

  22. @Morné:

    But talking about ‘entertainment’, do you think Cheetah fans are entertained with their team 2nd last on the log?

    Comparatively speaking, compared to the supporters of the other team they played on the day? Yes! :ollie:


  23. @Morné:

    we are the most watched maybe because our rugby watching public is 3 times the size of the kiwi population?

    thats the only reason.

    And on rugby as entertainment – I do enjoy a Cheetah game more even if they lose than watching most WP games. The only team who is allowed to win ugly (and they mostly do) are the Boks – even though i enjoy watching the Ozzies more, win or lose.

  24. and on the Cheetahs being second last – so what? Super Rugby means absolutely fuckall. Its comes around every year and has so many meaningless games. Also win or lose there are no real consequences.

    Might as well chuck the ball about and enjoy it.

  25. and lastly – the minute the cheetahs sense they can reach a play off they become just like any other SA team. Pragmatic and boring. No matter if a cavalier approach got them there – they will revert to type and try and eek out a win instead of playing the game.

    Oddly enough he minute they do this they lose anyway.

    So just go out and play boys!

  26. arsenal signed the most expensive merchandise deal with Puma in football history despite not winning any silverware for many years.

    I also dont think Toyota minds sponsoring a winless Cheetahs as the brand association with the Cheetahs will always be a positive one, because of the way they play maybe?

  27. @Cheetah Glory:

    Really? SA might have 50-mil people but I’d be surprised if 1-mil actively watch or support the game. NZ has what, 5-mil people and rugby is their national sport?

    Australia has 5 or 6 times that of NZ and is a sport mad nation who for all their ‘attractive’ rugby struggles behind 4 or 5 other codes including boring bloody test cricket.

    Also, why do we consistently get 30 to 50 thousand supporters in our stadiums where they struggle to fill 20 000 seater stadiums?

    As for Toyota – did you forget the circumstances that sponsorship was signed under? And how do you think it compares with DHL or Vodacom from a monetary point of view?

    Here is a reality check for you.

    You need money to survive as a professional sporting organisation. For all their ‘entertainment’ the Cheetahs has, apart from the Lions, the lowest corporate sponsorship deals – why else do you think they consistency lose their star players?

    And it is stupid to compare rugby in SA to soccer in the UK which is privately owned clubs, the dynamics are completely different for private, corporate, and business investment in those organisations.

    Hey but who am I trying to convince? The more rugby grows as a professional sport the harder it will get for teams like the Cheetahs. In 15 years from now, we will think back fondly of the team that once played ‘pretty’ rugby.

  28. @Cheetah Glory:

    Funny you mentioning soccer.

    To any independent observer it must be the most boring, monotone, one-dimensional version of football by a large margin. Yet it is the most popular by an even larger margin.

    Teams play several games per week, which mostly end in draws. Form 100 minute games they compile 30-sec “highlight” clips consisting mostly of kicks that missed their target.

    To spice things up and prevent themselves from boredom induced suicide, crowds engage in running rumbles with whomever would oblige the same or blow endlessly on plastic horns.

    Yet it’s the most popular sport by far!

    The popularity of sports and teams have almost no relationship with attractiveness or excitement. It’s all about culture and custom.

  29. Imaging 90% of a rugby highlights package consisting of the kicks that did not go between the sticks.

    The rugby fan doth protest too much methinks.

  30. @Timeo:

    Last nights Madrid game was very exciting. We are in an era of Spanish domination and they dominate because they started passing the ball much much more than teams used to.

    This makes the game very exciting to watch – much like when rugby teams throw the ball around.

    The try being scored is a bonus, but the real beauty lies in the fluidity and creativity of these crazily talented players.

  31. @Morné:

    The Bulls can accurately measure that they have 900 000 supporters. So you are saying the rest of the country shares the other 100 000?

    No sir, rugby is actively followed by much closer to 5 million people in SA, the population of NZ.

    The Cheetahs dont have money because they cannot market the game. Much like most unions in SA. I bet a good 3rd division soccer side in England with a stadium capacity of 5000 probably earn more money from gate takings in a year than the Cheetahs, because we have tannie Koba hand out flyers to promote a professional sport.

  32. winning rugby should be the first port of call. Once you have that, you need to also entertain.

    Then you inspire people and then the wallets open.

    But in SA we are so happy just being second best on the pitch and in the boardroom so why aspire to anything more than not losing often? Its an affront to our rugby that a small rugby nation like Oz can have parity with us on the pitch AND also play a more entertaining brand of rugby.

    If we had a bit more ambition we would be unbeatable on the pitch and have the best league in the world. But alas.

    Reading these threads you would swear there is nothing wrong.

  33. Bud if the Cheetahs ended fourth overall with a big win set of seasons it would matter zero what style of rugby they played or the handing out of flyers…

    The fans would come…

    The “Tannie Koba” analogy is such kak it deserves no response even… that era ended back in 1992

  34. @DavidS:

    tannie koba still sends the faxes at most of these unions. They have no clue how to market a modern professional sport apart from trying to get their players on Toks en Tjops.

    If Cheetahs win, no matter how, it will be great. But if you can win, why not go a step further and become something that truly inspires people?

  35. @Cheetah Glory:

    Somewhere in a mall in Pretoria…

    “What South African rugby team do you support?”

    “Those blue guys that win all the time.”

    Accurate statistics…

    Television figures released after every competition has games watched by between 400 000 and the very big ones, just over 1-mil. So just Bulls supporters must be watching these games then hey?

    Actively follow doesn’t mean you know the game is played every weekend.

    We had this discussion before about a year ago – I think first try and get to know how things work inside a union before you make assumptions on it.

    I seriously think you have a massive misconception of how the game is played and coached at the highest levels or what it is about.

    Here is an example for you.

    When you have a semi-talented player at school level and you tell him ‘play what you see’ or ‘run the ball’ he does so against defenders that have absolutely no defensive structures or systems in place. Defence at schoolboy level is about ‘everyone just tackle the oke with the ball’.

    In this situation almost every ball is used on attack against a broken, unstructured defensive team – similar to what you get when you turn a ball over at senior level and teams have no time to set their defences (most valuably ball in rugby).

    Laaities run with freedom and it is just too beautiful to describe.

    Fast forward to senior rugby…

    You tell a player to ‘play what he sees’ and guess what he sees – a wall of defenders in an organised structure that protects 3 lines the attacker need to breach.

    End result, player has no fucking clue what to do so he just kicks all the time.

    You plan as much what you want to do if you have the ball, than what you do when the opposition has it because the harder you try and attack, the harder the other guys defend.

    Rugby is not league, you do not have a set number of phases you are guaranteed to run through, advantage is gained through structure, setting plays, and outsmarting (outnumbering) the defenders in front of you. Rugby is like a game of chess played by 30 guys at once on the same board. Advantaged is gained by the team that knows the laws best, has the ability to work together as one and outsmarts the other guy.

    You want something to flow – watch tennis, because rugby is definitely not your game then.

  36. @Morné:

    many rugby teams seems to manage just fine (in making the sport a spectacle)

    Dont just blindly accept everything as fact and something that cannot be changed. I just want our teams to be more ambitious and not just try and minimize risk to win.

    And I am so fucking sorry for criticizing our unions. I see how leinster market the game and I see how the Cheetahs market the game. One is streets better at it – but I am not allowed to say so? Out of what, patriotism?

  37. and also, if we have only a million people watching the game, why are we not making 20 times the effort to get some 2 million africans to start liking the game?

    A serious question:

    What is better for the game – the boks playing mostly with white teams and winning very often, pleasing its 1 million followers,


    The Boks pulling in more black players, losing more often in short term, but gaining 2 million extra viewers every Saturday with games broadcast on SABC?

    this is not a loaded question – I really want you guys to ponder this question?

  38. and lastly, I have NEVER been a prophet for ‘heads up, play whats in front of you’ rugby.

    I call for more structure, but the end goal of the structure has to be ambitious.

    Lets play to score a try at the end of a 6 phase move, not ‘lets put pressure on them via phase play so they make a mistake and we get a shot at goal’

    But to actively plan to score a try after 6 phases you need players to have good skills and back their moves.