Jamie Roberts has hailed Friday night’s clash between the Ospreys and DHL Stormers as the game of the weekend in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.
The former Wales and Lions centre, who had a spell playing for the Stormers in 2020, says both teams will be desperate to claim the spoils at the Swansea.com Stadium.
“The Ospreys are a good side at home, no two ways about that. They are a tough side to beat, they are physical. Toby Booth is a smart operator and I think he’s got the qualities at his disposal to win this game,” he said.
“However, they are coming up against a very good side, a really well-balanced smart side. Some of the players the Stormers have are exceptional.
“They pressurise teams and when the time comes to play, the likes of Manie Libbok are fantastic attacking threats. They are just really, really smart the way they play the game.
“Yes, they are strong up front, yes, they have got some good players behind, but I just think the psyche around how they are managing rugby games and how smart they are being is just second to none at the minute.
“It’s going to take one immense performance from the Ospreys to win this. They are coming up against a side full of confidence, a side that is winning time after time. It’s going to be a huge challenge.
“It’s probably the game of the weekend for me. They are two teams who will be desperate to win. I think it’s going to be hugely exciting.”
The Stormers – the reigning URC champions – have claimed maximum points from their first three league matches, while all four South African sides are in the top half of the table, with their 12 games against European teams having produced 10 wins.
Roberts commented: “I think this league is perfect for South African rugby, with how attritional the games are and with the weather coming in now. You’ve got that South African psyche of set-piece dominance, line-speed in defence, real aggression in the contact area.
“This style of rugby in the URC suits the South African teams better than the old Super Rugby and they are really finding their feet now. They have really worked out which style of rugby wins games.
“I think back to the Cardiff-Lions match, which I worked on a few weeks ago. That was just a complete lesson in how to manage a game under those conditions. It wasn’t pretty, the wind was howling, it was pouring down with rain. The Lions just got the game by the scruff of the neck and it was a real lesson in how to manage a wet-weather game.
“As a Welshman, I watched that match going, ‘We should be doing that better than the South Africans because we play in the rain for most of the season’.
“But the Lions gave Cardiff a lesson on that night. It just feels like the South African sides are adapting quicker to the way the game is played in the northern hemisphere than the Welsh sides are at the minute.”
Roberts was speaking at a URC media round table along with former Springbok wing Breyton Paulse.
Giving his thoughts on the success of the SA sides, Paulse said: “You have got to compliment the coaches for how fast they have learned. Guys like Jake White and John Dobson have really worked it out on how to interpret rules and how to use a squad system.
“The South African teams have been very much more competitive than at the start of last season. They have worked out a way to play.”
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