Cape Town - Former Lions coach Swys de Bruin believes the Stormers pack could give them a significant advantage in this year's Super Rugby tournament.
"With the handful of forwards in their group who were involved in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, it will definitely be their strong point," De Bruin said in an interview with Netwerk24.
The Stormers have a strong Springbok contingent, especially up front with loose forwards Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit, props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, and hooker Bongi Mbonambi all playing in last year's World Cup final win over England.
"As a coach, John Dobson also brings a relaxed and almost light-hearted atmosphere to his team and they'll definitely benefit from it. For me, the Stormers look really good," De Bruin added.
De Bruin is nowadays a consultant to the Southern Kings in the PRO14 and also a former Springbok assistant coach.
He also helps out at schools and offers countrywide coaching clinics, as well as having signed a deal with SuperSport to be involved with rugby programmes in 2020.
Some of these programmes include popping in at the local Super Rugby teams, with the exception of the Lions.
The Lions reportedly told SuperSport that they would be welcome to shoot the programmes, but that De Bruin should not come along.
De Bruin resigned as Lions head coach last year after it came to light that he was suffering from psychological issues. He left the Lions' Australasian tour during Super Rugby last year, before permanently leaving the union in October.
De Bruin said the Lions remained close to his heart, but was not prepared to offer an opinion on their fortunes ahead of the 2020 season.
Of the Sharks, De Bruin said he was interested to see how the Durbanites perform under new coach Sean Everitt who he described as a "very underrated coach".
De Bruin said there was stability at the Bulls with a "good administration".
"They were definitely the best South African team in 2019 and can build on that. They may have lost players like Handre Pollard and Lood de Jager, but with Morne Steyn and Juandre Kruger back again, class was replaced with class."
De Bruin also described Bulls mentor Pote Human as a "very dynamic" coach.
Super Rugby starts this weekend, with the Sharks and Bulls squaring off in Durban on Friday (19:10), while the Stormers host the Hurricanes at Newlands on Saturday (15:05) and the Lions open their account away to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Sunday (01:00 SA time).
- Compiled by Herman Mostert