‘We know we can run with the big dogs’

Hacjivah Dayimani of the Stormers has been cleared to play, the team revealed on Monday. | Backpagepix

Hacjivah Dayimani of the Stormers has been cleared to play, the team revealed on Monday. | Backpagepix

Published Apr 16, 2024


The Stormers took their loss to La Rochelle in the Champions Cup personally, but now that they are out of the tournament, it gives them more time to focus on the United Rugby Championship (URC).

And with five games left in the regular season, starting this Saturday against the Ospreys in Cape Town (kick-off 7.15pm), they are fighting to get into the top four to secure home play-offs.

Hacjivah Dayimani of the Stormers has been cleared to play, the team revealed on Monday. | Backpagepix

The inaugural URC winners, who are fifth on the points table, have to pick themselves up after that narrow defeat against the former Champions Cup holders and have to win all of their matches going forward to come into contention for a home play-off.

Starting against the Ospreys on Saturday, they will have their best players to pick from – except for injured flanker Deon Fourie and winger Leolin Zas. Both are out with long-term knee injuries.

Captain Salmaan Moerat and loose forwards Hacjivah Dayimani and Ben-Jason Dixon will all come into contention after coming through their concussion return-to-play protocols.

Assistant coach Dawie Snyman confirmed the trio is on track with their recovery and should be available.

Ben-Jason Dixon of the Stormers. | BackpagePix

The Stormers are expecting another bruising encounter this weekend.

“A lot of their game revolves around their forwards,” Snyman said about the Ospreys.

"You firstly have to worry about their game up front and how you handle that, before you can think about their backs. They are a well-coached side at the front and have a very good set piece.

“They also are a very proud club. Toby (Booth, Ospreys coach) is a great guy and he is very passionate. He will definitely want to come here and do well. We will respect that.”

According to Snyman, the La Rochelle encounter brought many lessons that they would take forward into their game, but their competitiveness shows how close they are to the top European clubs.

Gaining that winning momentum again starts against their Welsh visitors on Saturday evening.

They had a full week of no rugby with no overseas travelling and should be ready for whatever is thrown at them.

“It's still a process of learning in the different tournaments. We want to feature in all of them and be successful. We wanted to play a quarter-final and took that loss against La Rochelle very personally. They are one of the top teams in Europe,” said Snyman.

“We were very close.

“If that meant we had to struggle against Ospreys (after playing a quarter-final), then so be it. But then we could've tested our depth. We are learning from it, and we are finding ways to do good in both competitions. That is something important to us.”

The result against La Rochelle was disappointing, but the boxes the Stormers ticked pleased their coaches. Now, they want to build on that, especially the first-half performance, and learn from it.

“We were up by 13-0 and played some good rugby in the first half. But there were moments when we gave the momentum back to them. And top teams can keep that momentum and put the pressure on you to fight back and score points,” said Snyman.

“Lessons were learned but we know we can run with the big dogs. It doesn't matter if it's at home or away.”