Constant change of personnel as a consequence of regular injuries has taken its toll on the Stormers, according to coach Allister Coetzee.
The Stormers have now replaced the Cheetahs at the bottom of the Super Rugby log following their 22-11 loss to the Waratahs at Newlands on Saturday, marking a sixth defeat in seven matches this season.
“We’ve had to change personnel week in and week out and many of the players coming in lack experience,” Coetzee said after the game in Cape Town.
“Some of them are playing Super Rugby for the first time and have not yet played Currie Cup, we lack experience.”
From the pre-season to the present, long-term injuries have struck hard in the Stormers camp and at various stages, no less than 11 players, including seven Springboks, were sidelined.
“What can you say, we are in a bit of a hole at the moment and it is just for this team to get out of that hole,” said Coetzee.
“I guess we met the Waratahs at a bad time [because we are depleted] but there is a bye next week and it’s a good time to re-look at our plans.”
Coetzee explained that the lack of experience has, on occasion, resulted in poor decision-making during games. The outcome was that some players started losing confidence.
“When we get turnover ball, well, in our game plan-that’s the ball we run, have a go, have a crack (at the opposition defence),” said Coetzee.
“There are decisions players make during matches which has been really strange to me. It’s also strange, when we’re in attacking positions we start kicking those balls away. It is a concern and that is why I question the confidence of certain players.”
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika echoed Coetzee’s sentiments about the timing of the match.
“We got them in a good week. They had just had four weeks on tour, had a few injuries, no Jean de Villiers, no Schalk Burger, no Gio Aplon, so it hurt them,” Cheika said.
“We wanted put them under a bit of pressure. They were feeling the pressure a bit. You could just feel it in Cape Town that there was expectation on them.”
Cheika said he was pleased that his charges took advantage of the situation and managed to record an away win.
“In a season where it seems the ledger of home and away wins is going to be quite important, any away win you get is going to be quite valuable,” said Cheika.
“To be fair to the Stormers, we were a week into our three (tour) weeks so we were all feeling sharp.
“So I think we have to be realistic around that too, but we took advantage of the situation, and were able to come away with something.”
Stormers stand-in skipper Duane Vermeulen said despite the defeat he remained optimistic for the rest of the season.
“We had a good game plan and executed it well until halftime, but silly little errors during the second half proved our undoing,” said Vermeulen.
“When you’re on the back foot it’s hard to keep your hands down at the ruck. Just the second half, we couldn’t execute. There were slight errors, little small mistakes that crept in and that was our problem.”