Thu, Jul 21, 2016 - Page 16 News List

Stormers coach laments lack of Kiwi opponents

Reuters, WELLINGTON

New Zealand’s complaints about the Super Rugby competition format yesterday gained support from Stormers coach Robbie Fleck.

The Stormers have been seeded third for the quarter-finals having won the Africa 1 conference with 51 points and host two-time champions the Waikato Chiefs in Cape Town on Saturday.

The match at Newlands will be the first the Stormers have played this season against any of the five New Zealand teams, who have dominated the Australasian group and taken four of the five qualifying spots available.

Fleck said he would have preferred to have played New Zealand teams throughout the regular season, given how well they are playing.

“It is a little bit frustrating because we have a young group of players and we are going through changes in terms of the way we want to play and want to grow as quick as possible,” he told Radio Sport.

“Certainly the Kiwi sides have shown they’re the best in the competition, they are changing the way the game is played and their skill level is of the highest quality,” he said.

“You want to match yourself against the best throughout the year,” he added.

Super Rugby’s conference system has been criticized in New Zealand for rewarding the ACT Brumbies and Stormers with home quarter-finals at the expense of the Otago Highlanders, Chiefs and Canterbury Crusaders, who all have superior winning records.

Despite the dissatisfaction with the structure, Fleck said it was too early to change it for next season, though there might be an opportunity to revisit it for 2018.

“It’s got to run its course obviously and next year we will play the Kiwi sides in the same format,” Fleck said.

“Certainly the ground feeling is there will be changes come 2018 ... but we need to see how it goes next year when we do play the Kiwi sides,” he said.

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