Home Sport Rested Stormers out to slay Dragons

Rested Stormers out to slay Dragons

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All-in-all, the Stormers are in good shape in terms of players’ stocks, and apart from Deon Fourie, they have nearly all their Springbok options available.

Stormers forwards coach Rito Hlungwani says the Cape squad was in rude health. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky, BackpagePix

Mike Greenaway

The silver lining to the cloud of the Stormers being knocked out of the Champions Cup, is the break they have enjoyed before the resumption of the United Rugby Championship (URC) this week.

The Stormers are in fifth place, just behind the Bulls, and they have three games left to elevate themselves into the Top 4 where a home quarter-final is the reward.

The Stormers left on Tuesday morning for a Friday match against the Dragons at Rodney Parade. They play Connacht in Galway a week later, before finishing the tournament with a home match against the Lions

All-in-all, the Stormers are in good shape in terms of players’ stocks, and apart from Deon Fourie, they have nearly all their Springbok options available. In an eve-of-departure press conference, assistant coach Rito Hlungwani said the squad was in rude health.

“The week off (while the Cup tournaments were under way) helped us,” said Hlungwani. “It would be tough for us to be leaving while the players were recovering from a game and then expect them to be in action on a Friday night.

“We have enough time to get there feeling fully recovered and fresh, and next week we get that full training week in Galway. So, it all works out quite well for us.”

“An eight-day turnaround will be perfect for us, as it means we will be able to get to Galway in good time, and then spend a whole week there getting used to the conditions and to the 4G surface that we will be playing on.”

The better news is that the prop crisis the Stormers have been suffering has lessened. Sti Sithole has been passed fit for selection and it’s a timely boost just as the Capetonians hit the road.

“Sti has been training,” Hlungwani said.

“He stands out because he hasn’t played in a while, but he has been training and will be up for selection. That takes a lot of pressure off us in a department where we have been very thin.”

Sithole was originally a Shark – he went to Westville Boys High, the school that recently produced star centre Ethan Hooker – but he made his name at the Stormers, before a stint at the Lions and a return to Cape Town. Sithole’s return to fitness will take the pressure off Brok Harris, who in turn has been filling the big boots of Steven Kitshoff.

“Sti has done really well,” Hlungwani said. “I’m not saying that Brok or Kwenzo (Blose) didn’t do well in his absence, but we have been really happy. His scrum work especially. When he’s in there, he competes well. He wins a lot of penalties. He operates well with Neethling (Fouche), Frans (Malherbe), and the hookers.

“He is a big gain for us going forward into the business end of the competition. We are happy to have him back.

“We just want to get him into proper, full fitness so he can push to play 60 minutes. That’s the next job for us, to get him game fit again.”

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