Coach John Dobson believes flyhalf Kade Wolhuter will take “the first step” to reaching his immense potential when the DHL Stormers and Scarlets lock horns in Cape Town on Friday.
Making his first appearance of the 2022-23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship, Wolhuter will partner Paul de Wet at halfback in a much-changed lineup for the defending champions at Cape Town Stadium.
The 21-year-old playmaker was tipped as one of the players to watch come flying out of the blocks for the Capetonians in 2020, before a serious knee injury interrupted his progress and ruled him out of rugby for the best part of a year.
Speaking at a Stormers media conference on Thursday, Dobson told reporters: “Kade has come back for the Stormers after a big injury and it’s a big moment for him, it was a much more dramatic injury than first thought. Hopefully tomorrow is the first step for him and we’re all proud of him.
“I think it is going to take some time for him to reach his potential, because his potential is very high … and hopefully tomorrow night we see it.”
With first-choice No 10 Manie Libbok away on Springbok duty and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu ruled out due to injury, Wolhuter gets his shot against Scarlets to focus on getting some consistent game time and show what he is capable of in a Stormers jersey.
Dobson, though, has cautioned against expecting too much, too soon from the former Paul Roos prodigy: “There is a difference between Manie and Kade, and that’s part of the coaching journey we’re on with Kade.
“Kade is a very traditional South African flyhalf, and Manie is… he’s not quite Warrick [Gelant] when you’re not quite sure what will come out. Part of the thing is we want to get Kade to toughen up a bit on the attack and give him a bit of the Manie traits. We’ve got a plan.
“We can’t go back to the type of flyhalf we had here the last couple years ago who sits 10 yards further back in the pocket. But since Kade has come back his confidence level is much higher.”
Meanwhile, lock Gary Porter will make his debut for the Stormers on Friday after his arrival in pre-season.
On the selection of Porter to face the Scarlets, Dobson added: “He reminds me very much of a Marvin [Orie] or a Chris van Zyl, very detailed at lineout time. Like Chris van Zyl, he loves the lineout.
“He’s 27 but he is a really good late developer and I’m excited about him. He’s an out and out 5. So we’re going to throw him in and I’ve no doubt he’ll swim … as a bit of a late bloomer.”
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) November 24, 2022
Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix