Exeter Chiefs ‘a different animal’ at Sandy Park ... but Stormers can tame them

Ruben van Heerden is cup-tied for the Stormers’ Challenge Cup match against Exeter. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Ruben van Heerden is cup-tied for the Stormers’ Challenge Cup match against Exeter. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Published Apr 6, 2023


Cape Town - He won't be able to help his new teammates on Saturday against his old team but Stormers lock Ruben van Heerden believes they can go to Sandy Park and get the victory over Exeter Chiefs.

Van Heerden will miss the game as he is cup-tied with Exeter being his former club.

The Cape side will aim to make history in the quarter-final despite being on the back foot when it comes to experience in the Champions Cup.

But they make up for the lack of experience by lighting up the competition with their fearless style of play.

Van Heerden says Exeter will look to dominate with their forwards and if his team can match them, it will provide opportunities for the backs.

"From an individual point of view, I am absolutely gutted that I am not allowed to play,” the towering lock told the Stormers website. He is cup-tied after playing for Exeter in the group stages of the Champions Cup.

"That said, the boys have a great challenge this weekend. The Chiefs are a tough team to beat at home. They have only lost one game at home this season. That was against Saracens.

"They are a different animal at home and the crowd gets behind them. The guys know that Sandy Park field so well."

Van Heerden believes the Stormers' well-balanced gameplan can be the key to booking that spot in the semi-final. Of course, he would love it if his new team can get one over his former side.

They already beat another tough English Premiership side in Harlequins this past weekend, running out 32-28 victors for a top-eight spot.

"We have good forward play, a power game and we can run. The Chiefs are known for their forward play, so it will be important not to give them 22-meter entries and to play a disciplined game.

"The forward match-up is going to be very good. In broad strokes, it will be an arm wrestle. Playoffs are always like that. I think we will match them upfront. I have no doubt our backline will take them on. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Stormers put up a massive performance.

“I have no doubt the guys flying over to Exeter will get the job done. I know we have it in us to go to Sandy Park and come back with the win.

"The boys are flying high and rightly so. From what I know about this group, even when we are flying, we are still grafting and we know there is a different challenge coming in Exeter this weekend,” he added.

The Stormers will have to contain that Exeter forwards pack with South African-born loosies Aidon Davis and Jannes Kirsten amongst them. As well as England eighth man Sam Simmonds and Scottish lock Jonny Gray. The Paarl-born Exeter-flanker Jacques Vermeulen will miss the clash with his former team due to a foot injury.


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