Roos is back! Stormers coach thrilled as Springbok prodigy shows 'the Evan of old'

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Evan Roos back in the thick of things. (Bertram Malgas/News24)
Evan Roos back in the thick of things. (Bertram Malgas/News24)
  • Evan Roos' excellent return from injury was enough of a glimpse for Stormers mentor John Dobson to believe the No 8 of old is back.
  • The 23-year-old, who made his return after recovering from a rib injury, played a major role in his side's revival against Clermont, overturning a tougher start to this season because he's a marked man.
  • But Dobson believes all of his subs - notably Jean-Luc du Plessis and Herschel Jantjies - played a role in securing a win that ensures a home Champions Cup playoff.

It's a return that lasted a mere 34 minutes but one that was sufficient for Stormers coach John Dobson to believe that a rampaging Evan Roos is back to being the player that was crowned the inaugural URC Player of the Year last season.

The 23-year-old loose forward played an instrumental role in reviving a flat team performance, which eventually blossomed into a 30-16 bonus point victory over Clermont at the Cape Town Stadium.

That win also secured a home berth in the Champions Cup's round of 16.

Roos had been sidelined with a rib injury since late November after a promising showing for the Springboks in a comprehensive win against England at Twickenham, though that robust performance overshadowed to an extent a start to the URC campaign where he's found the going a bit tougher, predominantly due to more alert opponents.

Yet Saturday's cameo suggested the tide has turned for the good.

READ | Rocking Roos return fires Stormers to bonus point win and home Champions Cup playoff

Roos scored within 90 seconds of taking the field, showing immense upper-body strength to barge over the line from a stunted maul mere moments after he made the run that set up the try.

He completed all six of his tackles and even won a turnover to cap a pretty emphatic greeting to the Stormers faithful.

"Yeah, it looked to me like the Evan Roos of old," said Dobson.

"He's had a tough start to the season because he was heavily marked. But this felt like vintage Evan. I'm very pleased with that performance. It's going to be a massive asset for us going forward."

Roos' return might've been the most prominent one, but he was just one part of the Stormers' reset at half-time - trailing 3-6 - where Dobson introduced several substitutes to add energy and purpose.

"It's unfortunate [that we needed to make changes so early in the second half] because we were flat and disjointed initially. Where we need to give credit is to Clermont. You're so inclined to look at yourself that you forget they made 112 tackles in the first half and only missed three. 

"We were basically running into a brick wall," said Dobson.

"Jean-Luc is a Du Plessis, so he's a bit mad [as a rugby player], but he'll bring some spark to the game. Herschel [Jantjies] is nippy too, so all we really needed in that game was a bit of speed. It's never nice substituting guys on 45 minutes, and we probably could've done so at half-time already, but that's inhumane.

"Nonetheless, all the subs made a difference. It was a bit of a team spiral in the first half, but Kitsie [Steven Kitshoff] spoke at the break and we just became more direct, and delivered some outstanding play."


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