The DHL Stormers tighthead prop Sazi Sandi is applying pressure in all the right ways as he completes his apprenticeship in the front row, learning from some of the best.
Sandi has been honing his craft at the Stormers’ Bellville training facility, packing down against Springbok stalwart Steven Kitshoff under the watchful eye of Bok anchor Frans Malberbe. The two World Cup winners are helping to prime the 24-year-old to go live on the Vodacom United Rugby Championship main stage.
First called up to the Stormers squad for the 2020 Super Rugby season, Sandi made his debut in Super Rugby Unlocked against the Free State Cheetahs.
A former St Andrews head boy, the East London-born Sandi played U19 and U21 for Western Province, and starred for Maties before adding his muscle to the Junior Springboks’ engine room.
Held in high regard by Stormers coach John Dobson, Sandi made his URC bow as a replacement against Benetton in the 2021-22 opener and has since made nine more appearances, seven off the bench.
He came off the wood in a bonus-point win over Edinburgh at Cape Town Stadium earlier this month, a cameo clouded by a red card and a subsequent three-match ban for an unfortunate head-on-head collision with flank Jamie Ritchie.
Sandi consequently missed the first two matches of the Stormers’ tour to Italy and Wales, and is now champing at the bit to make up for lost time.
Scrum consultant Hanyani Shimange said: “Sazi is a high-potential prospect and one of the best up-and-coming props in the country.
“He’s a very popular guy in the squad, with big energy and a big personality. Sazi is tough, has a great work ethic and takes his conditioning very seriously.
“In the gym, his numbers rank him among the most explosive guys, so we’ve even had him covering hooker.”
The former Springbok hooker added: “At the Stormers, he’s got the best learning school, learning from Frans Malherbe, Brok Harris and Neethling Fouche, but he also holds his own ground.
“In training, he scrums at tighthead and comes up against experienced props like Steven Kitshoff and Ali Vermaak.
“He carries, cleans, is skilful and, defensively, he’s a beast and he smashes okes – I am sure it won’t take long before he’s a crowd favourite.
“He’s very keen to learn and a pleasure to coach, and he’s had some good moments on the field – he started against the Bulls when we won at Loftus.
“In tighthead terms, he’s a baby at 24 years old, but he’s one to look out for.”
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