Evan Roos and Deon Fourie have a target on their back as Edinburgh have set their sights on eliminating the Stormers from the Vodacom United Rugby Championship playoffs, reports DEVIN HERMANUS.
Roos has been one of the competition’s standout performers this season, leading to growing calls for him to be given his chance in the Springbok jersey when Wales tour SA in July.
The 22-year-old ranks among the top ball-carriers in the URC, helping the Stormers to a second-place finish in the overall standings.
At 35 years old, Fourie has been at the forefront of a Stormers surge in which the South African Shield winners have secured a home quarter-final against Edinburgh at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
Fourie’s experience has shone through in a relatively young Stormers side, and his ability to play hooker and loose forward has been an added benefit going into the playoffs, along with his poaching skills – the veteran ball-hawk ranks second in the URC for breakdown steals.
Edinburgh arrived in Cape Town as one of only two European sides to have won in SA this season – a 21-5 victory over the Sharks – and were held to a 20-20 draw by the Stormers in Scotland earlier in the tournament.
Loose forward Hamish Watson, nicknamed ‘Pinball’ for his ability to bounce off tacklers, told reporters this week: “Evan Roos is one of the big talismans for the Stormers and I think he has a big future ahead of him, and our job as an Edinburgh pack is to nullify that threat.
“He is one of their big ball-carriers who are [also] good in the air … so I think we’re going to have to double-shoot a lot of them and try to dominate those contact areas.”
He added: “They’ve got lots of jackal threats all over the park who are also very physical, and there’s no secret to how to nullify threats at the breakdown.
“You’ve got to have speed to the ball, be physical and respect those guys who are good at turnovers. We know how dangerous the Stormers are, with a very big pack and a good back three on the counter-attack. So, we’re going to have to control the game well in those areas.”
Watson has fond memories of touring the Republic – the 49-cap Scotland international made his British & Irish Lions debut in a 22-17 win over the Boks at Cape Town Stadium in the first Test of the 2021 series.
“It helps from my point of view, being in SA quite a bit over the last year and having played in the stadium we’re going to play at this weekend,” Watson said.
“It’s nice to have played in that first Test [for the Lions] and to have won. There were few of the [Bok] guys who are playing for the Stormers.
“But that’s in the past and it’ll be an even better experience if we can beat them out here away from home, take their seat and have a semi at the DAM Health Stadium.”