Stormers now more confident on ‘dangerous’ 4G pitch for Glasgow quarter-final

Stormers coach John Dobson said Warrick Gelant (right) is likely to start at fullback against Glasgow on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Stormers coach John Dobson said Warrick Gelant (right) is likely to start at fullback against Glasgow on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 6, 2024


The Stormers are starting to understand the nuances of playing on a 4G pitch better, but are still wary of the pitfalls of the Scotstoun Stadium ahead of their United Rugby Championship quarter-final against the Glasgow Warriors.

Head coach John Dobson says they’ve learnt quite a few helpful things against Stade Francais and Connacht, and the hybrid surface of the Dragons that could equip them to deal with whatever the Warriors throw at them on Saturday evening (8.35pm kick-off, SA time).

“It’s an incredibly unforgiving surface,” Dobson said this week of the 4G pitches.

“I would prefer them not to exist, quite frankly, from a player safety and lottery-of-the-game perspective.

“At Connacht recently – I don’t want to be boring – but there was a pick-and-go on our line, and the guy just needed to dig his studs into the ground and the momentum was with him.

“If you are on grass and there is a contact, then the foot almost skids back, but on a 4G, if they get their studs in they can almost cannon forward off it because their studs are not going to give.

“It makes it almost impossible to defend. I think it’s dangerous because your legs can twist. We have done injuries like that on that kind of surface – it happened to (lock) Adré Smith in Cardiff last year.

“But we are starting to learn about that, and that’s exactly it – whether it is at maul time or ball-carrying … How the ball is rolling, the scrum set piece.

“It’s less of a power maul, but more of a speed maul. It’s very difficult to get back into the fight (during a rolling maul) when a team goes forward on the 4G.

“We are far more confident than before. It took time to get used to it.”

Dobson said they’ve told the players to pack for a few weeks because they could still end up playing a semi-final in Munster if the Ospreys come undone in Ireland and they get the victory in Glasgow.

Should the Ospreys win, it will mean a semi-final in Cape Town.

Springbok Warrick Gelant should be back in the No 15 jersey after not facing the Lions, while all indications are that utility back Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu will shift to the bench to cover various backline positions.

“Once Damian went down, we couldn’t take a chance with Warrick. We needed one of them during the back end of the competition. So, it didn’t make any sense to risk Warrick (against the Lions last week). But he is 100%,” Dobson said.

“Sacha will go somewhere forward, probably onto the bench or at 12. That is the option currently.”