Salmaan Moerat, Suleiman Hartzenberg fast enough to fire for Stormers in Ramadaan

Suleiman Hartzenberg scored a hat-trick of tries for the Stormers against Edinburgh last Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Suleiman Hartzenberg scored a hat-trick of tries for the Stormers against Edinburgh last Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Mar 26, 2024


Stormers captain Salmaan Moerat and wing Suleiman Hartzenberg received the plaudits from their coaches for their excellent performances this past weekend, despite fasting during a crunch clash with Edinburgh in the United Rugby Championship.

It’s the holy month of Ramadaan for the two Muslim stars, and despite not eating or drinking anything from dusk till dawn, they helped the Stormers overcome the Scottish club 43-21.

Hartzenberg scored a hat-trick of tries and pushed for a fourth right until the final whistle, while Moerat, alongside flank Ben-Jason Dixon, put in the physical work to get the backline on the front foot.

This Saturday against Ulster, Moerat and Hartzenberg will have time shortly before the 7.15pm kick-off in the Cape Town Stadium to break their fast, but they will have to balance it out to avoid the possibility of overeating and risking a lethargic start, or not having enough food and running out of energy.

Moerat is grateful for how the Stormers’ management has accommodated him and Hartzenberg on their religious journey.

“Yes, we are fasting, so I was very grateful that Dobbo (head coach John Dobson) took me off in the 65th minute, as I was cramping up,” Moerat said about last weekend’s game.

“We didn’t have time this past Saturday to break our fast because the game ended around sunset, but there will be time before kick-off against Ulster, so we have to see.”

Hartzenberg also said he can break his fast before kick-off against Ulster, and is grateful for that.

“I will have something light before the game.”

Stormers skills coach Labeeb Levy explained that they’ve adapted the training routine of the duo while they are fasting.

“The body takes its toll after fasting for a couple of weeks, as you can see,” he said, laughingly pointing to Hartzenberg.

“But Ramadaan is also meant to make you mentally strong, and they know it.

“They would’ve grown up with that mindset, and would have a bit of mental toughness and tenacity, which they have shown. It’s not an excuse that you are fasting ... they have coped.

“It was always a challenge in terms of training back in the day, but the system has grown and has catered to more people.

“Over recent years, there’s been a certain formula, and coaches have been open to someone like Salmaan not having a gym session during the day, but at night with supplementation.

“I always chat to them about what they are doing, so in the morning they will eat a bit more and load a bit more, and take more liquid than normal. They are doing very well.”

Dobson praised Moerat and Hartzenberg for what they put in on a game day and at training in the week, despite not eating or drinking anything during the day.

“It’s incredible and remarkable what they achieve in those circumstances.”

The duo will be fasting for another couple of weeks, and two weeks from now, managing them will be important again as they face La Rochelle in a 4pm game in Cape Town.

That is the duel they are currently building up to as they aim to make the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup for a second consecutive season.

Meanwhile, the Stormers are still toying with some options at loosehead, but Leon Lyons landed in Cape Town yesterday morning after returning from Kimberley to solve an injury crisis.

Lyons was on loan with Griquas, and he looks set to slot right in as a back-up to Brok Harris, filling the void left by the injuries in the squad for Saturday’s Ulster clash.