- After a slow start to Super Rugby Unlocked, Stormers coach John Dobson has strongly hinted that their main focus is on winning the Currie Cup.
- Four out of the Stormers' six Super Rugby Unlocked matches are away from home.
- Dobson feels the Bulls have the inside lane at claiming the Super Rugby Unlocked title.
He hasn't entirely given up on claiming the Super Rugby Unlocked title, but Stormers coach John Dobson has made it clear that their main focus is on winning the Currie Cup.
Despite winning their first two games against the Lions and Pumas, the Stormers have made an unconvincing start to the Super Rugby Unlocked competition.
They were thumped 39-6 by the Bulls in a weather-shortened clash at Loftus Versfeld last week and currently lie fifth on the standings, seven points behind log-leaders the Bulls although the men from Pretoria have played one more game.
The Super Rugby Unlocked title will go to the team atop the standings after a single round of matches before the teams enter the Currie Cup where points obtained during Unlocked will be carried over.
The Currie Cup will culminate with semi-finals and a grand final on 23 January.
The Stormers have a tough Unlocked draw with four of their six matches to be played away from home, while in the Currie Cup they will have the advantage of playing more home games.
After naming his team to face Griquas in Kimberley, Dobson admitted he found the draw strange but said they would make the best of it.
"The draw isn't traditional. We've only got two home games the whole round and four away games... four on the road this time of the year, going up to altitude in these temperatures, is tough.
"I don't want to make excuses but it is a tough draw, it obviously helps us in the second round with the Currie Cup," Dobson said during a virtual media briefing.
The coach added that they viewed the two events as intertwined.
"We're working entirely for the Currie Cup, it's one season or us. We've got a goal of being in the final on the 23rd of January... ideally at Newlands... we haven't started particularly well but it is a reasonably long journey, with lots of games still to come here at Newlands.
"So, we're definitely taking a longer-term view. Make no mistake, we're trying to win every game, but [our focus is] long-term," Dobson said.
He's not completely writing off the Unlocked title, but Dobson admitted the Bulls were favourites to claim the silverware.
"We want to be in the Currie Cup final, make no mistake. But in Unlocked... the Bulls have lost a game, the Cheetahs have had to share a game, the Sharks have dropped one... there's a big one in Durban tomorrow night (Sharks v Cheetahs) where somebody's going to lose.
"The Bulls, the way they're playing, have probably definitely got the inside track. It's by no means over but, as I said, our goal is to be playing rugby on the 23rd of January."
Super Rugby Unlocked's final round is on 21 November, with the teams then switching over to the Currie Cup the following week.
The Stormers will change into Western Province and they host the Blue Bulls at Newlands in their first game on 28 November.
Their clash against Griquas in Kimberley kicks off at 16:30 on Saturday.
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