De Jongh calls the shots at Stormers

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Veteran Springbok loose forward Schalk Burger will also have a say on the field in combination with De Jongh and Malherbe.

De Jongh, though, will lead the Stormers team out on to the field and have the final say on decisions.

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said that the youthful nature of the player group was one of the main reasons behind the plan to share the workload between De Jongh and Malherbe, on and off the field. De Jongh turns 28 in April and Malherbe 25 in March, and both have come a long way in the Stormers set-up.

“We have a young squad and we want to strengthen the leadership within the group. I wanted a strong leader in the pack and in the backline, so with them sharing the workload it makes things easier,” Fleck said at the Stormers training headquarters in Bellville on Tuesday.

“Juan has developed into a great leader who has proven himself at Currie Cup level and has done the Stormers as well, and Frans is a natural leader which he has shown since age-group level. The idea is to groom Frans for the future, but we also needed to share the workload.

“We’ve gone with the collective leadership in our group, and I think the two individuals perfectly fit what I want out of them. Most importantly, they are great human beings and they personify what our team is about. They think the same about rugby, they think the same way as I do - they think out of the box. They are experienced enough to add massive value to our campaign.”

The Stormers are following in the footsteps of defending champions the Highlanders (Nasi Manu and Ben Smith) and two-times champions the Chiefs (Liam Messam and Aaron Cruden) in appointing co-captains, and Fleck admitted that he had taken the success of those teams into consideration when opting for the dual-skipper path.

“It’s been utilised by the Highlanders successfully, and the Brumbies are doing the same thing this year as Stephen Moore is moving to the Reds (in 2017) and Christian Lealiifano is a co-captain this year. And it’s worked well for the Chiefs.

“For us, it made common sense and I took my time with it. I consulted both players and other senior players, and it was obviously a resounding yes at the end of the day.”

“The way it will work is that we also have Schalk Burger being an experienced guy, so between the three of them, they will be collaborating on the field with the decisions. But ultimately, Juan will have the final say.

“In saying that - I hope I’ve done my work with the leadership group - we have an understanding of how we want to play and what to do in certain situations.

“Also, Jubies (De Jongh) may be going to the Olympics and he may be missing the playoffs - depending on how it all works out - so it’s a natural transition of that leadership with Frans.”

ashfak.mohamed@inl.co.za

@IndyCapeSport

Independent Media

Original source: De Jongh calls the shots at Stormers

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