Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
13 Mar 2019
2:02 pm

Why the Stormers did things ‘weirdly’ with their new coach

Heinz Schenk

It doesn't happen a lot in South African rugby that a guy like John Dobson's appointment is announced almost a year in advance.

John Dobson, Dawie Theron, Robbie Fleck, Norman Laker and Gareth Wright during the DHL Stormers training session at HPC Bellville on March 12, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Succession planning isn’t really South African rugby’s strong suit.

And when it does happen, the big reveal usually only comes after the incumbent has left, sometimes months after.

The Stormers’ announcement last last week then that John Dobson will take over from Robbie Fleck as head coach next year was indeed an anomaly.

However, Fleck admits that the move basically amounts to self-preservation for the franchise, which is particularly vulnerable for a player exodus after the World Cup.

“We had to announce the succession plan now because of the contracting of players,” said the former Bok centre, who’s been in charge since 2016.

“The big challenge for John going forward would be to contract players going forward and to secure a strong playing base. It’s an end of an era and it’s Dobbo’s job along with my help to convince as many players to stay at Western Province and the Stormers and make it a success in 2020 and beyond.”

The Stormers is arguably the team that’s at biggest risk of bleeding top players, particularly if previous speculation is to be believed.

Bok captain Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Steven Kitshoff all reportedly have fat carrots dangling in front of them by English clubs, while Eben Etzebeth has already agreed a switch to French giants Toulon.

The administrative chaos plaguing WP Rugby, where the amateur arm led by president Zelt Marais reportedly wants wider powers to run the professional arm, is also a contributing factor to the uncertainty.

Players have previously spoken out against a lack of communication.

Dobson though is very popular among the players and Fleck believes that might grant him some pulling power.

“I have been part of Dobbo’s management team during the Currie Cup for the last two to three years, so I know exactly how he operates.

“I firmly believe that John will be able to recruit the correct amount of guys,” said Fleck.

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