Super Rugby

Stormers coach hopes changes bring renewed energy, sheds light on recent struggles

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John Dobson (Gallo Images)
John Dobson (Gallo Images)
  • Stormers coach John Dobson says he's made changes to his starting XV to "add energy".
  • Discussing their slow start to Super Rugby Unlocked, Dobson says the corononavirus enforced break has had a greater impact on players than many may believe.
  • Prop Steven Kitshoff adds that the players are "desperate to bounce back" against Griquas.

Stormers coach John Dobson is hoping the changes made to his starting XV will bring about some much-needed energy for Saturday's Super Rugby Unlocked clash against Griquas in Kimberley.

The Stormers are coming off a heavy 39-6 loss to the Bulls and Dobson has made five changes to his run-on side.

Tighthead prop Neethling Fouche, lock David Meihuizen and flank Marcel Theunissen come into the starting pack, while wing Angelo Davids will make his Stormers debut and scrumhalf Paul de Wet steps in for Herschel Jantjies, who misses the match on compassionate grounds.

"Last week certainly wasn't our most energetic performance, so we want guys who could bring a lot of energy. We also have to build depth in the squad, so we identified a couple of guys who needed opportunities for a few games," Dobson told reporters during an online media briefing on Thursday.

The coach was particularity excited at the prospect of seeing winger Davids and flanker Theunissen in action.

Both players starred for the Western Province junior team in the recent Under-21 Championship staged at Ellis Park.

"Those two were absolutely outstanding in the heat at Ellis Park, they brought energy so they're getting rewarded for that.

"Angelo has got great work ethic, he chases kicks, he's got X-factor. He was scoring a couple of hat-tricks in that competition. Marcell was the skipper... so I wanted to reward those guys for their performances for the under-21s.

"We have to win this game, I've chosen a team that I think is best to win this game. And those [new guys) will bring energy."

Missing ingredient

The Stormers have struggled to get out of first gear in Super Rugby Unlocked and when probed on what the missing ingredient's been, the coach shared his views: "Our big thing was to try and get territory... in every one of these games we've won territory... and maybe that's come at the expense of other areas of our game.

"We've worked so hard at trying to bring our territory [stakes] up from 40% to the 50s which we managed to do. But obviously we've lacked a certain sort of fluidity on attack. Our defence has been good at this union for a long time and [last Saturday] was just a poor day at the office."

Dobson also said he felt the coronavirus-enforced break has had an adverse effect on the cohesion of most teams - except for the Bulls who got a new coach in Jake White, who made several new signings during the lockdown.

"These guys have been going for close to a year, every union... the Bulls are coming with a largely new player roster, new coach and massive energy. I don't think the other franchises are playing with the same sort of panache that they perhaps were before lockdown.

"This [delay] has been an extraordinary thing, it's taken a lot out of the players... playing in front of no crowds... we're no different and I'm not trying to make excuses but the Bulls is a new setup and that brings energy. These guys have been through a lot this year and I think it reflects on how we're playing.

"We would like to be playing more with attack and at some stages the passes will stick."

Meanwhile, captain Steven Kitshoff will play his 100th game for the Stormers on Saturday.

"I didn't think I'd be playing my 100th Super Rugby game in Kimberley but still it's a massive honour to be able to play 100 games for the Stormers and represent such an incredible union. I'm really excited about this weekend and looking forward to the bounce-back," Kitshoff said.

He added the players were eager to get back to winning ways.

"The whole group is very desperate to play a good game of rugby. We've put in all the hard work during pre-season. Every week we've trained well but we just haven't found our straps yet.

"The guys are desperate to prove themselves for 80 minutes on a Saturday. You can feel it and the amount of energy and effort that went into this week proves that the guys are willing to bounce back and give their everything for the jersey."

Saturday's clash kicks off at 16:30.



15 James Verity-Amm, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Eduan Keyter, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Zak Burger (captain), 8 Carl Els, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Adre Smith, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 HJ Luus, 1 Mox Mxoli

Substitutes (from): 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Andrew Beerwinkel, 18 Madot Mabokela, 19 Johan Momsen, 20 Ewan Coetzee, 21 Theo Maree, 22 George Whitehead, 23 Harlon Klaasen, 24 Bandisa Ndlovu, 25 Cameron Lindsay, 26 Dan Kasende


15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Marcel Theunissen, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 David Meihuizen, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain)

Substitutes (from): 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Sazi Sandi, 20 Salmaan Moerat, 21 Chris van Zyl, 22 Ben-Jason Dixon, 23 Godlen Masimla, 24 Tim Swiel, 25 Michal Hazner, 26 Ruhan Nel

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