Stormers hat-trick hero Suleiman Hartzenberg aims to reset for Ulster

Suleiman Hartzenberg was solid in defence against Edinburgh, and showed his nerve under the high ball too. Photo: PHANDO JIKELO Independent Newspapers

Suleiman Hartzenberg was solid in defence against Edinburgh, and showed his nerve under the high ball too. Photo: PHANDO JIKELO Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 27, 2024


After being invited to the Springbok alignment camp this year, 20-year-old Suleiman Hartzenberg is dreaming big rugby dreams.

But for those dreams to be realised, the versatile speedster wants to put his best foot forward for the Stormers in the United Rugby Championship and Champions Cup first – and the rest, he believes, will follow.

The wing scored a hat-trick of tries last weekend against Edinburgh, helping his team to a 43-21 victory, and now has his sights set on putting in another good performance against Ulster on Saturday at the Cape Town Stadium (7.15pm kick-off).

In last season’s URC clash against Edinburgh, Hartzenberg scored a double, but he laughed when probed if he would make it four five-pointers during their next encounter.

“I was just on hand to dot the ball down. It’s thanks to our backline that I could score the tries,” he said, humbly giving credit to his teammates, this week.

His first touchdown was off a Manie Libbok cross-kick, while he was on hand to receive a pass in space after fullback Damian Willemse drew the Edinburgh defenders onto him with a good run.

For the third five-pointer, he dived over in the second half after a half-break by centre Wandisile Simelane, which put Evan Roos in space to set up Hartzenberg.

“I got onto the scoreboard thanks to the team’s success, how hard the forwards worked and our attitude towards the game. It helps to have Manie and Damian on the inside of you. Our backline was on fire, so it made my job easier,” the former Junior Springbok star said.

“It does feel amazing to score three tries, but you have to reset ahead of the new week. That was one week’s performance, and you have to bank it and move on to the next.

“If you stay too long on the high, you might not look forward to the next game or not prepare that well.”

Hartzenberg is looking forward to what Ulster will bring this weekend and to hopefully build on his performance from last Saturday.

He was also solid on defence, and showed his nerve under the high balls that came his way, and the kicks he chased.

Hartzenberg – who hails from Manenberg, matriculated at Bishops and has come through the UCT Varsity Cup side – harbours dreams of playing international rugby.

And after being invited to Bok coach Rassie Erasmus’ first alignment camp of the year, he wants to keep chasing that.

“It was an amazing experience, just being in that environment and seeing how everything works,” Hartzenberg said.

“It definitely added to my aspirations of becoming a Springbok. But obviously you have to be performing for the Stormers first, and then if you do everything well at the Stormers, you will get the recognition of a call-up.

“For now, it is purely Stormers-based, and whatever happens, happens.

“I do enjoy playing 13 (outside centre) as well, but understanding where we are in the URC and what the team needs from me, I am happy to play at wing and give my best, and then later on look to make the shift to 13.

“Whichever position I am in, I will give my best.”

Hartzenberg added that it’s been a learning curve navigating his fasting during Ramadaan at the moment, and adapting his routine when it comes to preparation.

This past weekend, he and captain Salmaan Moerat could only break their fast after the game, but against Ulster, they will be able to eat and drink before the 7.15pm kick-off.