By Ashfak Mohamed
The Stormers had a nightmare start to their tour of Australia and New Zealand after a large part of their baggage went missing on arrival in Brisbane on Monday.
n addition, assistant coaches Gary Gold and Allister Coetzee, as well as kicking coach Louis Koen and media manager Frikkie Erasmus, only joined the team on Monday after a marathon 24-hour journey from South Africa.
Team manager Chippie Solomon commuted between the airport and the team hotel several times in a bid to find out what had happened to the team’s luggage.
“It is a total mess. More than half of our luggage is missing,” he told the Cape Times from the team hotel in Surfers Paradise, an entertainment hub about 80km outside Brisbane.(Eds note – They just can’t stay away from the party now can they)
“The biggest problem is that we have none of our training kit with us, so we couldn’t have a normal practice yesterday. The Australian cricket team was with us on the flight from Sydney to Brisbane, so I suspect that with all their cricket kit, our baggage may have been left behind in Sydney. It has thrown out our schedule entirely. We are three to five hours behind with what we had planned to do by now.”
Frikkie Erasmus said that the Stormers’ week will be severely disrupted because of the late arrival of some of the team management. Stormers players and coaches were not available to speak to the media because of the travel problems. The majority of the team had left Cape Town on Saturday morning and had travelled via Hong Kong and Sydney before reaching Brisbane on Monday.
“Everything is all over the place,” said Erasmus. “I have just had to go through a 24-hour trip to get here. It is almost 11pm here (3pm SA time) and Rassie is about to have a meeting with the other coaches who arrived with me. This is disrupting all our plans.
“We haven’t been able to do any preparation for the match really. Some of us are only checking into the hotel now, while others are already in bed. We hope to have a ‘normal’ day tomorrow, but a lot will depend on whether we can get our missing baggage back in time for training.”
After losing their first three matches, the chaotic start to the week does not bode well for the Stormers. They will take some solace from the fact that they haven’t lost to the Reds since 2003. This includes one-point and four-point victories in Brisbane in 2004 and 2006 respectively.
But they are under huge pressure to win in Brisbane on Saturday. Another defeat, to a Reds team that they should beat on paper, will intensify the pressure and scrutiny on Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus. As they face far tougher opponents in the Chiefs, Blues and the Western Force on tour, the Reds fixture is the one the Stormers have to win to save some face.
But based on the evidence of their performances thus far, it is hard to see how the Stormers will suddenly be more creative on attack and start scoring tries. In addition, Erasmus has insisted that he is backing his misfiring inside backs. He said after the Crusaders match last week that he would “never throw a player out of the window” until he has tried everything to get that player performing at his best.
Former All Black flyhalf Tony Brown, who could bring a semblance of flair to the backline, is only due to join up with the team for next week’s clash with the Chiefs in Hamilton.Tweet