King Steven Kitshoff returns to DHL Cape Town Stadium dominion to slay Welsh dragons

Stormers captain and Springbok prop Steven Kitshoff. Picture: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Stormers captain and Springbok prop Steven Kitshoff. Picture: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Published Jul 11, 2022


Cape Town - As Steven Kitshoff prepares to rumble into DHL Stadium on Saturday, the Springbok prop must be excused if he views the venue as a medals dispenser.

Since helping South Africa hoist the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019, Kitshoff served as a block of granite in South Africa's 2021 British & Irish Lions series win and then, in June, he led the Stormers to the United Rugby Championship title – both at the DHL Stadium.

Famously debuting in the 2011 Super Rugby competition as a teenager, Kitshoff was a standout performer in the Junior Springboks team that beat New Zealand to win the 2012 Junior World Championship title and he went on to make the Stormers No 1 jersey his own.

Known as “Ginger Ninja” or “Spicy Plum”, Kitshoff's power and endurance ensure his opposing tighthead prop finishes a match feeling like they have been in a war. While the freckle-faced front-row titan is known for his scrumming prowess, he has also grown into a prodigious asset as a ball-carrier and at the breakdown as a turnover fiend.


Kitshoff was first drafted into the Bok squad in 2016, and won his first Test cap in the final match of the series against Ireland.

His patience was tested, however, when he was forced to wait 18 Tests and more than a year for his first Test start – against the all Blacks on 7 October, 2017.

Nearly five years have passed since that showdown against the all Blacks, and Kitshoff has amassed 60 Test caps.

But the Gold Coast Test against the Wallabies in 2021 marked just the 15th start of his career as Kitshoff has been deployed 45 times from the Springboks bench – the formidable rearguard combination better known as “The Bomb Squad”.

Utilised as Tendai Mtawarira's back-up, Kitshoff specialised in mopping up behind the Bok centurion as part of a finishing unit tasked with raising the intensity.

Mtawarira was 34 when he delivered the scrummaging performance of his career against England in the final of the 2019 tournament, and it is said that front-rankers reach the peak of their powers in their early to mid-30s. Os du Randt was 35 when he won his second World Cup title with the Springboks.

A senior player in an enlarged national squad this season, Kitshoff will be 31 by the time the Boks depart for the 2023 World Cup – just in time for him to blow up on the biggest stage and join Du Randt as a double world champion.

IOL Sport