Stormers keen to utilise new lock in Ulster showdown: 'He has massive experience'

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Ruben van Heerden (Getty)
Ruben van Heerden (Getty)

New recruit Ruben van Heerden could be in the thick of things when the Stormers tackle Ulster in a URC clash in Belfast on Friday.

The 25-year-old lock joined the Stormers from Exeter Chiefs last week on a short-term deal, with a view to signing a longer contract in the future.

"It's always nice when a new lock comes into the system, especially one with Ruben's quality," forwards coach Rito Hlungwani told reporters on Tuesday. "He is 2 metres tall and 120kg. He's played for the Bulls, the Sharks and Exeter Chiefs, so he has massive experience.

"We spoke briefly and we had a long call last week. We had a good chat about the expectations, but I must say the one thing that strikes me about him is that he is just a humble good guy."

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Hlungwani also noted that Van Heerden's versatility in the engine room would be an asset.

"He's coming to fill in at No 4 and can also play at No 5 as well. Our pack thrives on physicality and a high level of intelligence when it comes to lineouts. We want Ruben to get comfortable as soon as possible and show what a good player he is.

"I always encourage the No 4 locks and No 7 flanks to get comfortable with calling the lineouts. Ruben has done it with the Sharks, Bulls and Exeter and is very comfortable with it. He will do this with us over the next few weeks once he has settled in and got the hang of our system."

The Stormers, meanwhile, will be without Springbok stars Steven Kitshoff and Damian Willemse for this Friday's match. With the club schedule in overdrive presently, the players are being rested. 

Lock Marvin Orie, in Kitshoff's absence, will captain the side and he leads a 27-man squad that was named on Monday. 

There is also a notable return for hooker Scarra Ntubeni, who makes a full recovery from a long-term knee injury while centre Juan de Jongh is also back. 

Friday's match kicks off at 21:35 (SA time).

Stormers squad:

Forwards: Kwenzo Blose, Ben-Jason Dixon, Willie Engelbrecht, Connor Evans, Brok Harris, JJ Kotze, Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, Scarra Ntubeni, Marvin Orie (captain), Junior Pokomela, Evan Roos, Sazi Sandi, Marcel Theunissen, Ruben van Heerden, Andre-Hugo Venter, Ali Vermaak.

Backs: Clayton Blommetjies, Juan de Jongh, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Suleiman Hartzenberg, Herschel Jantjies, Imad Khan, Ruhan Nel, Cornel Smit, Stefan Ungerer, Kade Wolhuter.

Unavailable: Angelo Davids, Steven Kitshoff, Alapati Leuia, Frans Malherbe, Salmaan Moerat, Gary Porter, Seabelo Senatla, Adre Smith, Ernst van Rhyn, Damian Willemse, Nama Xaba, Leolin Zas.

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