Veteran loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff has given the DHL Stormers over a decade of service and head coach John Dobson says the club will not stand in the Springbok’s way if he wants to join Ulster.
Kitshoff is reportedly set to join Ulster once his Stormers contract comes to an end after the World Cup.
“We will chat to him after the game on Friday,” Dobson told the media on Thursday afternoon. “Whether that’s on Friday night or Saturday. Kitsie is out of contract after the World Cup, he has more than earned his spurs and he has earned the credit to go where he wants to and where is right for him and his family.
“If that’s the case, that he is going to Ulster, then he goes with our blessing. He has respected his contract here and has put in so much on and off the field. Who knows, maybe after a couple of years with Ulster, he will be back here with us? He is an absolute bloke.”
However, Dobson could not hide his irritation when the subject of another Stormers star player leaving the Western Cape came up.
“I must say, it’s pretty exhausting. The mindset of these [overseas] clubs, that South Africans or Fijians are fair game to have conversations with, it’s frustrating,” said Dobson.
“We try to look after our own and bring through an own. It feels like we are on the back foot a lot of the time, fending off, especially if we do well. A case in point is Warrick Gelant.
“We focus on developing our own players and all the South African unions are like that. But once we do that, we have to deal with approaches for our players from elsewhere. It’s tiring, I will be honest with you.
“Every week, there’s a new player that somebody wants to chat to from overseas, whether they are in contract, out of contract, in or out of the window.
“But we continue to bring through our own players. We are very excited by this new generation of youngsters.”
Kitshoff was surprisingly included in the matchday-23 for Friday’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash against Ospreys in Swansea, along with hooker Joseph Dweba.
Both Springboks were left out of the original squad that travelled to Italy to face Zebre, but are on the bench this weekend.
“It was always in the plan to manage the Springboks who had been away from home for so long. We worked out individual plans for each of them,” explained Dobson.
“The front-row guys – Joseph and Kitsie – were looking at the end of the tour, they are in the reckoning now. Frans [Malherbe] has been recovering from a chest infection and won’t play this week. Salmaan [Moerat] will head back after tomorrow’s game, he stayed an extra week which we are very grateful for.
“The Springboks were always going to come on the tour. We just weren’t sure whether they would play both games in Wales.”
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 14, 2022
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix