Stormers captain Steven Kitshoff could face a blast from the past in Saturday’s match against the Ospreys at Cape Town Stadium. DYLAN JACK reports.
Bellville-born Ospreys tighthead prop Tom Botha has made 22 appearances since joining the Welsh club from the Cheetahs in 2018.
The 31-year-old started in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship match against the Lions at Ellis Park and is expected to retain his place for a homecoming against the Stormers in Cape Town.
Botha started his career at Western Province, representing the union at U19, U21 and Vodacom Cup levels, before he moved to the Eastern Province Kings and then the Cheetahs.
In fact, Botha and Kitshoff both attended Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch and, as the Springbok loosehead revealed, were good friends at high school.
“Yeah, Tom is an old schoolmate of mine. We were just a year apart at Paul Roos,” Kitshoff explained.
“It’s going to be fun playing against him. I actually somewhat followed his career over the years and I think he has done really well for himself. He is playing well for Ospreys.
“It’s going to be interesting and I am looking forward to it. There are going to be some old memories coming up when I play against him.”
Against Ospreys, the Stormers will be looking to build on their nail-biting win over Irish side Ulster.
Kitshoff said that while he was impressed with the way his teammates worked to keep Ulster from scoring a winning try in the last 10 minutes of that game, the Stormers need to be more efficient in executing the gameplan if they hope to extend their current home streak to five wins.
“As a positive, the guys worked really hard in the last 10 minutes of that game. We had our backs against the wall and were scrambling. But the work rate that we showed, if we can do that in the last five or 10 minutes, there is a possibility that we can do that for the full 80.
“Negatively, the way we executed the plan at the end of the day wasn’t good enough. We had a hard look at it and trained really hard this week. We’ve actually just almost simplified the way we want to play and want to play in the right area.”
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images