Home Sport It’s better that Stormers stars stay home for now

It’s better that Stormers stars stay home for now


It’s barely been a month since the Springboks returned from a long stay in France for the World Cup.

Manie Libbok of the Stormers is one of the players who will stick around at home and focus on gelling with the side. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky, BackpagePix

The best place for the Stormers to find some kind of form on the rugby field is at home, and that’s why coach John Dobson’s decision to send an alternative squad to England for their first Champions Cup clash against Leicester could be a master stroke.

They are in dire need of any winning momentum, and looking at their tough schedule over the festive season and New Year’s period, having the core players focusing on home games can go a long way towards getting regular victories again.

It’s barely been a month since the Springboks returned from a long stay in France for the World Cup. Other stars had to endure a four-week United Rugby Championship (URC) trip to Europe as well. The Boks played one game against Zebre at home, and one could see they were still trying to “click” with the rest of the side.

There were glimpses of the magical running rugby side against the Italians, but something felt forced in how they tried to get their game to flow. A year or two ago, their attack looked to get going effortlessly, but now it’s as if something big is missing in that set-up. And like Dobson said afterwards, they almost seem to want to force-play themselves back into form.

Their running rugby will also not be a viable option in the expected inclement weather conditions in wintry England this weekend.

Taking the travelling factor into consideration, as well as the need for certain players to “find their feet” in the side again after returning, it will be in the best interest of the team that key players miss Sunday’s Leicester clash (kick-off 5.15pm, SA time) to focus on striking form in the stretch of home games.

After the English trip, home games await against Champions Cup winners La Rochelle, as well as the high-flying Bulls and struggling Sharks in the URC.

It will be better for the likes of Manie Libbok and Damian Willemse to stick around at home and focus on gelling with the side ahead of their return to Cape Town Stadium.

La Rochelle, with the likes of Dillyn Leyds and Raymond Rhule, will present a big challenge. A week later, the Bulls pay a visit to Cape Town and they will be fired up to end the Stormers’ reign in the SA group of the URC.

The Sharks also have to find some wins from somewhere, and what better place to pick up a confidence-boosting win than against South Africa’s best side over the past two years?

Libbok and Willemse will be crucial in all these home games. They are the driving force in the Stormers’ game plan.

So, it does not make sense for them to play a Sunday away game in Leicester and get on a flight back to Cape Town to take on La Rochelle less than a week later.

And after that, they will only have seven days before the Bulls come to town.

So, the focus should rather be on being competitive and getting the wins at home to get their rugby back to where they want it.

Yes, they should not go to Welford Road just to play, but to be competitive. There are still points to play for, even if it comes down to a loss.

But getting their players ready for a big challenge at home over the next week or three – a challenge that can possibly make or break their season in terms of play-off spots in the different competitions – will be the crucial goal for the Stormers’ coaching staff.

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