It’s going to be an emotional farewell to Newlands this year. But can the Stormers give the grand old lady of South African rugby the send off she deserves? JOHN GOLIATH looks at their 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby prospects.
The Stormers need to hot the ground running as they are starting off with a difficult home assignment against the Hurricanes, which will be totally different proposition to what they usually encounter at the start of the season.
They normally kick off against a South African team, which generally equates to a brutal, forward-based battle. But the Hurricanes are likely to stretch the play more, which will test the Stormers’ fitness, especially because they have 10 World Cup-winning Boks in their lineup, who had a much shorter pre-season than the rest of their teammates.
But those Boks make up most of the spine of this team, which has a really good balance of exciting youngsters and grizzled veterans. They also have the power of Jamie Roberts, who is going to fill the rather large void left by Damian de Allende moving to Japan.
But the Stormers will also have the added motivation of giving Newlands a proper farewell. The Super Rugby trophy is the one thing that has been missing in their trophy cabinet.
The Cape side will travel much later in the tournament, and will hope to set the sort of platform in the beginning of the competition to absorb some of the hits that may come on the road.
Seniors they will depend on …
The Welsh star is A wonderful signing and player who will really add a lot of value to the Stormers’ cause. He is a powerful runner, which will give the Stormers’ loose forwards and outside backs the momentum to have a real go.
The Springbok hooker had a fabulous 2019 and established himself as one of the best No 2s in the world. His scrumming power and work around the park will be key, while his lineout throwing has improved out of sight over the last couple of years.
Others who can shine …
The promising lock is set for a big year and will be trying to fill the void left by Eben Etzebeth. The kid from Paarl has a massive engine and will bring that heat in the engine room. The Stormers coaches will also have worked on his contesting at lineout time.
The talented Willemse will get a prolonged run in the No 10 jersey, which is long overdue. The kid is a proper playmaker, who needs the ball in his hands. He can spark a Stormers attack, which is in desperate need of some oomph.
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