Stormers captain Neethling Fouche says the return of three superpowered Springboks has lifted the spirit in the camp as they look to get back on track against Zebre in Stellenbosch.
World Cup winners Damian Willemse, Manie Libbok and Deon Fourie were all named in the Stormers’ starting lineup for Saturday night’s clash against the Italian side.
The Stormers also welcomed back loose Hacjivah Dayimani from paternal leave, while young centre Suleiman Harzenberg could make his first appearance of the season from the bench.
Tighthead prop Fouche, who captained the Stormers during a disappointing four-week tour of Europe, said he is delighted to be leading a reinforced side at the Danie Craven Stadium
“The four weeks were character-building. But, having the Boks back with a few more faces returning like Hacjivah and Suleiman, that energy they bring rubs off on everyone,” Fouche said.
“It’s like a mini-portrait of the Avengers that has returned now. We’ve got Brannas [Fourie], who is like Ant-Man, he appears quite small, but he packs a big punch. Gaza [Willemse] has insane energy like Spider-Man, he’s everywhere.
“Then you have Captain Cape Town, Manie Libbok, whose attention to detail is so on point. His ability to analyse the opposition just brings that confidence to the team. You can’t put a price on that, so it has been nice.”
On the face of it, bringing all three Springboks straight back into action against a side that conceded 61 points to the Lions last weekend might seem like a drastic move.
However, assistant coach Dawie Snyman explained that the Stormers need to get everyone playing together before the start of their Champions Cup campaign next weekend.
“Zebre would’ve found that result against the Lions quite difficult. It’s tough for the teams coming from overseas to go and play against the Lions at altitude. It’s two different worlds,” Snyman said.
“Zebre have done well at home, beating the Sharks and getting a draw. They are a tough team. We’ve analysed them and it’s not going to be a push-over. We are definitely not taking them lightly.
“We also need to get a bit of cohesion with our players. That’s why we’ve selected this team, we need to find each other and gel.”
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