CAPE TOWN – When Sergeal Petersen joined the Stormers ahead of their 2018 Super Rugby campaign, Robbie Fleck said that he was excited about the speed and “special talents” Petersen would bring - talents that Fleck hoped would soften the blow of losing the “irreplaceable” Cheslin Kolbe.
During the pre-season, Petersen and fellow Cheetahs wing Raymond Rhule as well as JJ Engelbrecht were the speedsters the Western Province Rugby Union brought in after losing the backline arsenal of Kolbe and Leolin Zas. And while Rhule and Engelbrecht have played their parts with the Stormers during Super Rugby (Rhule has since moved to France to join Grenoble), injury has deprived Petersen of his chance.
“I’m a big fan of Cheslin, he’s irreplaceable in terms of his character, and as a player,” Fleck said back then.
“Rhule and Petersen have good footwork and (are) some special talents. And they’ve got speed. So with Cheslin leaving it’s opened the door for another player. So we’re pretty excited we’ve got the right players within our squad to play various types of games, and whether it will be chaotic or whether we want set-piece dominance or have to be gain-line oriented.”
While Petersen hasn’t yet had the chance to show his game-breaking ability in either “chaotic” or more structured game situations, it’s well-known that he sure offers talent and promise. And while we haven’t been able to witness those special talents in the blue and white stripes, we’ve seen it in the orange ... many times.
Petersen was dealt a massive setback when he tore his medial collateral ligament during a Rugby Challenge warm-up game back in March. And since then, the 24-year-old hasn’t run out at Newlands, or anywhere else in South Africa for the Stormers or Province, for that matter.
But on Saturday he’ll get his chance in WP’s Currie Cup-opener ... against his former team.
During WP’s two-match tour to France, Petersen started on the left wing against both Narbonne and French powerhouse Montpellier. And while that tour made him feel like “part of the team for the first time”, it’s the chances that he hopes to get going forward that the quick-moving Petersen is relishing the most.
“After being out for so long, I felt like a part of the team for the first time,” Petersen said following the tour.
“It was an awesome tour and it was great to be involved, before the tour I hadn’t contributed anything to the team. We gained a lot from both games.”
“I’m just excited to be playing this weekend.”
Petersen is of course not the only game-breaking wing or back WP’s backline boasts.
There’s the likes of fullback Dillyn Leyds - whose devastating skill, counter-attacking potency and general attacking know-how is well-documented - while Craig Barry is also somebody who has also shown his attacking prowess while in the Cape.
“I’m happy to be a part of this team and to get back into the swing of things. I’ve been here for eight months and this will be my first contribution at Newlands,” Petersen said.
“Dillyn is one of the best attackers I’ve seen, and that’s probably why I came to Western Province ... not only because of Dillyn, but because of the style of play that the Stormers’ backline brings. I think that can suit my game and make me a better player the more I play with the guys, and the more I gel with them.”
Again, Petersen is only one star in a massively talented WP backline, but it’ll be great to see how he can shine when he gets his chance in the blue and white stripes.