Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus has made “some vital mistakes” during this year’s Super 14 campaign and these will be addressed in the next two weeks. That was the assurance given by Stormers chairman Pat Kuhn as he and Western Province Rugby Union president Tobie Titus left Cape Town yesterday to join the Stormers squad on tour in New Zealand.
The Stormers face the Hurricanes at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.
Ashfak Mohamed writes in the Cape Times that the Stormers are in the bottom four of the Super 14 log in 11th position, having lost six out of their eight matches so far. Kuhn told the Cape Times that while he and Titus are not going to New Zealand “with a whip”, they hope to find out what the problems are and to improve the situation.
“It is difficult. This trip has been planned for some time now, so we are not going there because of the dismal performances at the moment. We planned that, win or lose, we are going,” he said.
“It is bad to go and face these young men over there now. You can’t go there with a whip now. Obviously we need to show that we are still supporting them at the moment. That is the main thing. We are going there and the team are losing, so it is bad the way it is.
“It is easier to be there and discover what the actual problem is. We have all watched the games on TV and we all know the disappointment. But once you get inside, you really get the feeling of the players and management and coach as well.
“We can boast the best defensive record in the Super 14. But in the end, that doesn’t help your result.”
Kuhn was reluctant to say outright that Erasmus’s job was under threat, but he did admit that pressure was mounting on the Stormers coach and that the Stormers bosses needed to play a greater role in making decisions.
Erasmus has a contract until the end of next year. “It is difficult to talk about Rassie being under pressure for his job. It is easy for everybody to say ‘Yes, you must put Rassie under pressure’. But we’ve got to face the situation,” he said.
“We’ve got to think back to what we’ve actually planned. We had this aim three years ago about what we want to achieve. Now all of a sudden, the team is not performing again, then now we must put Rassie’s job on the line.
“Yes, (we can play a greater role in making decisions). But we obviously couldn’t do that now when all these things happened and the team started losing all these games, because they are on tour now.
“Going forward, you’ve got to bear in mind that, when these boys come back, we need to unpack everything and see what went wrong.
“Rassie made some vital mistakes, but it is like anybody else in life. We all make mistakes sometimes. And we must be man enough to address the mistakes that we’ve made.”
Erasmus is a big name in coaching circles, but WP discovered that a big name is not always the best solution after the troubles they had with Nick Mallett previously. Kuhn acknowledges this point.
“Just using that example that you are making about Nick Mallett, that is exactly the same that is happening here,” he said. “The expectation when Rassie took over was that it was going to be magic. Okay, it didn’t work in the first year, but we are still battling in the second year as well.
“It is going to be difficult, but we must face the situation and that is what I am going to explain to the team and the players.” Titus did not want to comment.
Meanwhile, the Stormers could be boosted with the return of star lock Andries Bekker from a toe injury for the Hurricanes match. Bekker joined the team at the weekend and he told the Cape Times from Wellington yesterday that he is “50-50″ for the game.
“My toe is feeling much better,” he said. “I am 50-50 for Saturday, so we’ll see. If I can’t start, I could play off the bench.”
Prop Brian Mujati’s concussion is still being monitored by the Stormers management and a decision on his fitness is expected later in the week. Lock Adriaan Fondse also has a hand injury, but should be able to play.Tweet