The Stormers still have enough firepower to make their mark in next year’s Vodacom Super Rugby season, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
Under the new watchful eye of John Dobson, the have a whole host of Springbok players and a very talented group of youngsters who could make them South Africa’s biggest hope during the competition.
The departure of Eben Etzebeth for Toulon leaves a big void in the lock position but at the same time it presents a great opportunity to former Junior Springbok captain, Salmaan Moerat, to continue his rise under Dobson and become a regular starter in the Stormers team.
A similar scenario plays out at inside centre in the absence of Damian de Allende, but Dan du Plessis will have the opportunity to make the No 12 jersey his own on a more permanent basis if he manages to stay injury-free for a consistent period of time.
The strongest aspect of the Stormers’ game lies with their forward pack though. The world class front-row of Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe can cause any opposition scrum immense problems, while a similar loose-trio threat of Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Jaco Coetzee can front up to any physical challenge.
Dobson might feel the need to rotate his forward pack on a regular basis in order to get the best out of everyone, but with experienced players like Scarra Ntubeni, Wilco Louw, Cobus Wiese, Chris van Zyl and Juarno Augustus to call on, it could work into the team’s favour.
The Stormers can also pose a lethal threat on attack with Herschel Jantjies and Damian Willemse as a halfback pairing. After a stellar 2019 season, Jantjies certainly has no shortage of potential to take his game to the next level and kick on from the impact he made during this year’s Super Rugby competition.
Willemse will hope to build on the experience of his late call-up to the Boks’ World Cup-winning squad. After playing majority of the 2019 Super Rugby campaign at fullback, before getting injured, Dobson confirmed the 21-year-old will operate at flyhallf in his team, while Jean-Luc du Plessis is also a very suitable option.
Dillan Leyds will most likely be deployed at fullback with Sergeal Pietersen and Seabelo Senatla as the wings.
At centre the Stormers’ depth will be tested though. Ruhan Nel is expected to play at outside, while young Rikus Pretorius can also feature at either inside and outside centre, depending on the fitness of Du Plessis.
Nonetheless, Dobson does have a big group of players to pick from to add strength to the backline, but his firepower will undoubtedly lie with the forwards.
Photo: EPA/Nic Bothma