It is not a good sign when the Stormers’ pre-season headlines are all about tumultuous and turbulent events off the field.
To make matters worse, it appears that a faction (or factions) within the coaching set-up may be responsible for the disquiet within the camp.
For the uninformed. The protracted Paul Treu saga exploded into the media spotlight in January – with rumours of a threatening player strike and sponsors pulling out of the troubled franchise.
It was quickly followed by a full-house of denials.
And while some of the rumours have since been exposed as ‘fake news’, there is still a strong undercurrent of unease.
In fact sources close to the inner sanctum at Newlands have suggested the original ‘leaks’ related to the saga may have emerged from a faction within the coaching set-up … those unhappy with Treu’s ongoing involvement in the Western Province/Stormers set-up.
And captain Siyamthanda Kolisi was obviously aggrieved to have been dragged into to ugly public spat.
It will take some strong leadership to ensure that the players remain focussed and not get thrown off their game by all the sideshows.
There is no doubt the Stormers have the talent to be not just competitive, but challenge for silverware.
With a pack of forwards that include Kolisi, Wilco Louw, Steven Kitshoff, Pieter-Steph du Toit, John Schickerling, Frans Malherbe and Eben Etzebeth they should be able to compete with even the Crusaders.
Note: They should be able to compete.
The only reason they will fail; is if their focus is NOT on the job at hand.
South African Conference Placing: Fifth
Player of the Year: John Schickerling
Rookie of the Year: Edwill van der Merwe
Super Rugby Placing: Outside top 10
In: Corné Fourie (from Lions), Ruhan Nel (sevens)
Out: Nizaam Carr (to Wasps), Dewaldt Duvenage (Treviso), Jacobus Janse van Rensburg (Grenoble), Jan de Klerk (Canon Eagles), Dean Muir (Kintetsu Liners), Raymond Rhule (Grenoble), Carlu Sadie (Lions, loan), Stephan de Wit (Kings), George Whitehead (Griquas), Eduard Zandberg (released).
Squad: Wilco Louw, Steven Kitshoff, Siyamthanda Kolisi, Siyabonga Ntubeni, Salmaan Moerat, Ramone Samuels, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Neethling Fouche, Nama Xaba, Michael Kumbirai, Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, Kwenzo Blose, Kobus van Dyk, Juarno Augustus, Johan du Toit, John Schickerling, Jaco Coetzee, Frans Malherbe, Ernst van Rhyn, Eben Etzebeth, Corne Fourie, Cobus Wiese, Chris van Zyl, Chris Massyn, Chad Solomon, Sarel Marais, Sergeal Petersen, Seabelo Senatla, Ruhan Nel, Paul de Wet, Justin Phillips, Joshua Stander, Johannes Engelbrecht, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Jano Vermaak, Herschel Jantjies, EW Viljoen, Edwill van der Merwe, Duncan Saal, Dillyn Leyds, Dan Kriel, Dan du Plessis, Craig Barry, Damian de Allende, Damian Willemse.
Best finish: Runners-up in 2010
Worst finish: Eleventh in 1996, 2006 and 2014
By Jan de Koning @rugby365
Rugby World Cup City Guides – Fukuoka:
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