• Stormers confident of pull factor

    Stormers coach John Dobson says while they want to keep Bongi Mbonambi and Pieter-Step du Toit, they have excellent replacements lined up should the Springbok duo decide to leave. DYLAN JACK reports.

    Initial fears of a player exodus triggered by behind-the-scenes instability and the exits of former captain Siya Kolisi and loose forward Jaco Coetzee, have been belied as the Stormers have managed to keep hold of the majority of their squad for the upcoming season.

    Senior Springbok props Steven Kitshoff – who will succeed Kolisi as captain – and Frans Malherbe have signed new deals, as has Damian Willemse and promising youngsters Nama Xaba, Marcel Theunissen and Kwenzo Blose.

    Added to this, the Stormers are still hopeful that hooker Bongi Mbonambi and flank Pieter-Steph du Toit will extend their contracts beyond their expiry date in October. Du Toit has attracted overseas interest, but an opportunity to join Munster fell through after the Ireland Rugby Union vetoed the move.

    Both players have contract-extension offers on the table, but it is understood that Mbonambi will only make a decision on his future after the British & Irish Lions series.

    ‘Our first goal is to keep the guys here, but we do have excellent plan Bs,’ Dobson said during a media conference on Tuesday.

    ‘I can say with my hand on my heart that nobody has told us yet that they are definitely leaving. We are 90% complete with our squad and if one or two decide to go, we have excellent replacements lined up over the next year.

    ‘For the first time in a long time, CVs are coming to us. In the time that we have been on the training ground, we have received inquiries from three players, two of which are international players who want to play for the Stormers.

    ‘Obviously, in that respect, we are heading in the right direction.’

    Photo: Ziyaad Douglas/Gallo Images

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    Dylan Jack