Stormers opt for co-captains Salmaan Moerat and Ernst van Rhyn for United Rugby Championship tour
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CAPE TOWN - The Stormers have chosen to adopt a co-captain strategy for their upcoming United Rugby Championship tour of Europe, with lock Salmaan Moerat and utility forward Ernst van Rhyn appointed as leaders on Thursday.
The Cape outfit begin their tournament next Saturday against Benetton – who beat the Bulls in last season’s Rainbow Cup final – in Treviso (2pm SA time kickoff).
Moerat is a renowned skipper, having led the all-conquering Paarl Boys’ High during an illustrious school career, before taking charge of the SA Schools and SA Under-20 side.
The No 4 led the Junior Springboks to third place in the 2018 World Under-20 Championships in France, where they lost 32-31 to England in the semi-finals and beat New Zealand 40-30 in the third-place playoff.
Moerat was made the Stormers vice-captain to Springbok prop Steven Kitshoff earlier this year, but a neck injury kept him out of the Currie Cup. The 23-year-old has now recovered and will be ready to face Benetton, Munster, Edinburgh and the Dragons on tour.
Van Rhyn, who will turn 24 on Sunday and is normally a blindside flank, has also been the SA Schools and SA Under-20 captain previously, and led WP to the Currie Cup semi-finals as a lock.
“Salmaan and Ernst are both very comfortable in the captaincy role, having both done the job for just about every team they have played in, so it made sense to let them share the workload on this tour,” coach John Dobson said on Thursday.
“We know that this will be a challenging tour, but it is something we as a group are embracing as we embark on a new journey in the United Rugby Championship.
“We have brought some quality players into the mix, and they are all keen to make their mark in the Stormers jersey,” he said.
Some of the new signings announced recently include flyhalf Manie Libbok and lock Adre Smith and veteran prop Brok Harris, while loose forwards Willie Engelbrecht (Pumas) and Junior Pokomela (Cheetahs) and scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer (Griquas) are on loan.
Stormers Tour Squad
Forwards: Justin Basson, Dian Bleuler, Kwenzo Blose, Willie Engelbrecht, Neethling Fouche, Deon Fourie, Brok Harris, JJ Kotze, Leon Lyons, Salmaan Moerat (co-captain), Scarra Ntubeni, Junior Pokomela, Evan Roos, Sazi Sandi, Adre Smith, Marcel Theunissen, Ernst van Rhyn (co-captain), Andre-Hugo Venter, Nama Xaba.
Backs: Juan de Jongh, Paul de Wet, Dan du Plessis, Warrick Gelant, Tristan Leyds, Manie Libbok, Godlen Masimla, Ruhan Nel, Sergeal Petersen, Rikus Pretorius, Tim Swiel, Stefan Ungerer, Edwill van der Merwe, Leolin Zas.