United Rugby Championship

Dobson resigned to losing Gelant to French club: 'He will go with our blessing'

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Warrick Gelant bamboozled Glasgow with his sublime skills. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
Warrick Gelant bamboozled Glasgow with his sublime skills. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
  • Stormers head coach John Dobson on Friday appeared resigned to losing star World Cup-winning fullback Warrick Gelant to France.
  • The 27-year-old has reportedly signed a deal to join Racing 92 where he will link up with fellow Bok Trevor Nyakane.
  • Dobson said Gelant's demeanour suggested he wanted to finish his two-year Stormers tenure on a high ahead of a crunch URC weekend.

Stormers head coach John Dobson on Friday seemed resigned to losing star World Cup-winning fullback Warrick Gelant, who he said was in "advanced talks with a French club", believed to be Racing Metro.

Rapport reported earlier this month that Gelant missed the Springbok alignment camp to sign his contract with Racing 92, where he'll link up with former Bulls teammate Trevor Nyakane.

Gelant has been sensational since returning from a lengthy knee injury layoff and produced some outstanding performances that have contributed to the Stormers charging towards a top-four United Rugby Championship (URC) finish.

READ | Sharks coach chuffed to have super midfielder Am back: 'We missed him'

Whether off the bench or starting, Gelant has affected the game with his sharp-as-a-Samurai-sword counter-attacking and operating the backfield with aplomb.

He's also formed a deadly trio with fellow Springbok Damian Willemse, who shifted to inside centre, and former Bulls team-mate Manie Libbok at flyhalf.

Despite expecting to lose one of the sharpest tools of his armoury, Dobson said Gelant would leave with their blessing.

"He's in advanced talks with a team in France and we won't stand in his way," said Dobson.

"We've got some good plans around that if that happens. Warrick has a lot of responsibilities off the field and, if going to France helps him solve some of those responsibilities and takes less pressure off him, given the service he's given us, he goes with our blessing.

"I don't expect Warrick to be here next season. If he is, it would be fantastic but if he isn't, we've got some plans.

"I can't confirm it but it looks very likely that he'll be in France next season."

Dobson said he sensed a desire in Gelant to finish his time in Cape Town on a high after helping the team close in on a home playoff position against incredible odds.

'Always professional'

"What we've seen from him is this passion to leave with the biggest high," said Dobson.

"He's quite a quiet guy, always professional and always thinking but now he's almost a bit emotional, in a nice way.

"It shows how important this is to him. If we had an unlimited chequebook or had these conversations months ago, this might be a different story but that's fantasy.

"But I know he wants to end his time here having gone as far in the competition as he can."

Gelant is at fullback for the Stormers' ultimate URC round-robin clash with Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday.

The Stormers lie fourth ahead of the final pool stage round but are tied on 56 points with second-placed Munster and third-placed Sharks, who face Leinster (1st) and Ulster (5th), respectively.

Dobson's gone with the deadly backline trident - Gelant, Willemse and Libbok - who are supplemented by Seabelo Senatla's and Leolin Zas' pace and Ruhan Nel's industry.

A good two years

And Dobson harboured nothing but praise for the impact Gelant's had since joining from the Bulls in 2020 and the synchronicity of the three.

"He's done a great job for us. Warrick's obviously had a great season. We missed him quite a bit early on with his injuries," said Dobson.

"He's got the most sophisticated kicking game and if you put him with Damian Willemse, Manie Libbok, it's really hard for the opposition to cope.

"How they connect, especially in putting the opposition backfield under pressure, is special.

"And there's much more to Warrick than just the crazy offloads. He's really professional.

"[But] that's how it is in professional sport; a guy comes, his career was stalling for various reasons and we got a good two years with him, [despite] eight months of those he was injured.

"I wish him well if it's going to help change his life."

Stormers team:

15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Hacjivah Dayimani, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 JJ Kotze, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain)

Substitutes: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Marcel Theunissen, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Cornel Smit

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