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DHL Stormers

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Super RugbyJust how the revised Super Rugby format will go down with the South African rugby public is unclear, but we won’t have to wait long to find out.

The new-look tournament gets underway in less than a month, with the Blues and the Highlanders kicking things off in Auckland on Friday 26 February 2016.

From a South African perspective, the road ahead looks a tough one and if local bookmakers are to be believed there is no standout side from within these borders that looks set to challenge for the title.

Outside of the tournament changes, the majority of the South African franchises have also undergone major alterations with only 2wo sides – the Cell C Sharks and Emirates Lions – heading into 2016 with the same coaches that did the business in 2015.

The Southern Kings, obviously, were not a part of the 2015 competition but they also have a new man at the helm.

Here, we look at the 6 men tasked with bringing success to their respective franchises:

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DHL StormersDHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck has named a 30-man squad for their pre-season friendly against the South Western Districts Eagles in George on Saturday.

Following their successful pre-season match against the Eagles at Outeniqua Park in 2015, Fleck said that the team are keen to return to George where they always enjoy good support.

“We are really looking forward to the game, there was a huge crowd there last year and the people were fantastic. We have always enjoyed playing in George, especially as there are a lot of Stormers fans there.

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StormersThe DHL Stormers had a very productive defensive session against the Steinhoff UCT Ikey Tigers in Stellenbosch on Tuesday.

In sweltering heat on the Markötter field at Paul Roos, the teams played 2 chukkas of 20 minutes each at a high intensity.

In a specialised session designed to test the evolution of their defensive system in the off-season, the DHL Stormers were made to work hard by an Ikeys side renowned for their attacking prowess

A total of 30 DHL Stormers players took to the field as Head Coach Robbie Fleck made wholesale changes at the changeover.

This proved a valuable outing, giving the coaches further opportunity to look at which areas of their defensive game need further attention.

Fleck was very happy with the outcome of what was a demanding session.

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

Saracens are delighted to announce the signing of South African international flanker Schalk Burger for the 2016 / 2017 season.

The world class Springbok loose forward will link-up with the reigning Aviva Premiership champions for the 2016 / 2017 season after signing a 2-year deal with the Allianz Park club.

Renowned as 1 of world rugby’s finest loose forwards, Burger has captained South Africa during his stellar 12-year international career and is a former IRB World Player of the year. He has won 86 caps for the Springboks and holds the record for the most tries (14) for a loose forward for his country.

Burger will link up with Saracens after a spell with Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath and Super Rugby’s Stormers.

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Robbie Fleck

Robbie Fleck

Robbie Fleck has been appointed interim head coach of the DHL Stormers for the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season.

Fleck, who has been an assistant coach for the franchise since 2010, has been acting as the DHL Stormers’ coaching co-ordinator since the departure of coach Eddie Jones to England.

Fleck had a highly successful 2015 season as head coach to the DHL WP Under 21 team, losing only 1 game on the way to securing the ABSA Provincial Under 21 trophy this year.

Commenting on the appointment, WPRFU President Thelo Wakefield said: “WP Director of Rugby, Gert Smal, has done a thorough investigation into all available and interested coaches for the position. Robbie Fleck is a Western Province man through-and-through.

“He understands the environment having had extensive experience as an assistant coach at Super Rugby level and as a former WP, Stormers and Springbok player. In addition, he showed his mettle as a head coach this year, dominating the ABSA Under 21 competition. He deserves his opportunity and we are proud to be able to grow one of our own.”

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John Mitchell

John Mitchell

John Mitchell appears the firm favourite to become the DHL Stormers head coach, after meeting with Western Province rugby bosses on Tuesday.

According to reports, Mitchell was in the Mother City to discuss details of what is believed to be a 4-year deal with the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) and the Stormers.

The former All Blacks, Western Force and Golden Lions coach earlier this year turned down a job offer from the DHL Stormers.

In June, Mitchell said: “An approach was made to me and there were negotiations, but unfortunately Gert Smal is only contracted as Western Province Director of Rugby for another 2 years, so there were no guarantees for me beyond that period.

“Had I been offered a 4-year deal, it would have been different. But I have travelled around the world a lot to pursue my career as a coach and didn’t want to uproot my family again for the promise of just 2 years. I didn’t want to commute either, as I believe you have to be fully immersed in a culture to be effective as a coach.”

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John Mitchell

John Mitchell

It looks like the DHL Stormers should soon be in position to unveil their new coach to replace England bound Eddie Jones, with John Mitchell reportedly having met with Western Province officials in Cape Town late on Tuesday.

The former All Black coach is the only person who fits the requirements laid out last week by WP director of rugby Gert Smal last week – namely that the new coach preferably have an overseas slant to his coaching, have coached international rugby, have coached Super Rugby for at least seven seasons and have experience and knowledge of the South African rugby culture.

When asked about the meeting on Wednesday morning, all Mitchell could say was that he’d had fruitful discussions and that WP had been very professional in the way they had formulated their approach. However Mitchell was not at liberty to divulge further details and he has not signed on the dotted line, so negotiations appear to be ongoing.

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Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones will most likely not be coming back to Cape Town to assist the DHL Stormers in their pre-season preparation work, but he will be in Los Angelos this week.

Newly appointed England coach Jones will be addressing a World Rugby workshop on the success of the Japan team at the Rugby World Cup, who won 3 games despite failing to make the play-offs under his guidance.

Jones was unveiled as the new DHL Stormers coach earlier this month, before being made an offer he could not refuse by the English RFU which saw him leave Cape Town after just 2 weeks.

Stormers director of rugby, Gert Smal, claimed that Jones would return to Cape Town in December to assist with the planning for next season, explaining that the experienced coach felt bad for the way things had transpired with the Stormers.

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