Stormers

Watson and the new dynamic

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On the eve of his side’s crucial clash with the Blues, Stormers skipper Luke Watson speaks of the dynamics of leading a Super rugby team, and what his side has to do to beat the dangerous Blues.

Under Watson’s watch, Western Province – the chief union of the Stormers alliance – launched something of a turnaround in last year’s Currie Cup, beating arch-rivals the Bulls home and away in the league section.

A failure at semi-final time, and then the subsequent disappointment of the Stormers this year has put the skipper under pressure.

Watson, a controversial figure who has never been in favour with national coach Jake White, has the charge of some of the biggest names in world rugby, players like Schalk Burger, Jean de Villiers and Breyton Paulse.

The Stormers, in some of their high points this year, have demonstrated the ability they possess, but the reason for the lack of any consistency with which they apply that ability remains mysterious at best.

Watson spoke of the challenges facing his position.

“In the Currie Cup, one is leading a lot of young, inexperienced but very enthusiastic players, who are willing to do anything for the team.

“In the Super 14, there are a lot more experienced and established players, players who have walked a long road in rugby, and the dynamic is totally new.

“When things don’t go well, the dynamic becomes more difficult to manage. But I’ve enjoyed the challenge thus far.”

Watson believes that the responsibility for the unity and resolve within the team falls collectively upon the player and the coach

“The responsibility for the team falls on the captain, but equally upon the coach. The coach has a major say because he decides the structures and the boundaries of the team. He creates the system in which the captain leads.”

Watson admitted that the unique situation he finds himself in, was difficult at times.

“Sometimes certain individuals are difficult to manage, but the ‘big names’ have to fall into team structures – it can’t be about ‘big names’.”

Watson noted that the team is sometimes under the influence of externalities upon the team; the influence of politics which doesn’t complement the fluidity of the side.

But in the midst of challenge, Watson does trace progress. Mention of the loose trio is one of those facets of improvement.

“The loose trio has been going well. The guys have really been performing well, and it’s an area of ours that has been one of our strengths in recent weeks.”

Watson noted that both him and Schalk Burger would, in a perfect world, prefer to be out-and-out opensiders, but, as the world is not perfect, they had to “adapt” to the left-and-right combination.

Watson describes the Blues as an “incredibly well-coached side”.

“It is from within their structures that you see their individual brilliance. Their major strength are the gamebreakers they have out-wide.

“We will want to stick to our structures, pin them in the corners and turn them around.”

By Chris Waldburger 365 Digital

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