Coach John Dobson said that he gave the World Cup Boks an extra three weeks off, which he hopes will “manifest itself in competition.' Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – Having been crowned world champions last November, you would think that there is not much more to achieve for those players involved in the Springbok triumph in Japan.

And especially those stars involved at the Stormers in Super Rugby. It’s been a long road since that heady May day in Soweto in 2010, when they took on the Bulls in the final at Orlando Stadium.

Even though Schalk Burger’s team lost - where they felt that they got a raw deal from referee Craig Joubert - they had at least made it all the way to the decider.

They haven’t been back since, and missing out on the play-offs in 2019 may have just been the final straw. But, Siya Kolisi said this week, those Boks have largely - bar Damian de Allende, who left for Japan - committed to another two years in the Cape as they want to win the title once and for all.

A Super Rugby pre-season coming off a World Cup victory would not have been an appealing thought, but new coach John Dobson has been impressed by the mental and physical application shown by the Test players.

“Tom Dawson-Squibb (high performance coach) is here with us pretty much full-time. But I would say that the buy-in and enthusiasm of the returning Springboks has been extraordinary,” Dobson said ahead of this weekend’s last two warm-up fixtures against the Southern Kings (tomorrow) and Sharks (Sunday).

“Everybody said ‘How are you going to manage it?’, and that he (Kolisi) is with Jay-Z and Kanye West, and he is in Hong Kong! And that he’s going to play a Bundesliga benefit game, and all this stuff.

“But the energy they’ve brought have been incredible, and it’s testament to the character of the guys. To a man - and I might be one player off - they turned down bigger offers everywhere else in order to stay and see through the journey here that they started at Western Province.

“They are not going to do that and come back and think they are bigger than (everyone else). They completely bought into our vision of a de-stratified team - we can’t have a team, like we had in the past, of global superstars (and the rest).

“They all bought into the vision and brought in massive technical expertise. I really cannot praise them highly enough.”

Dobson added that he gave the World Cup Boks an extra three weeks off, which he hopes will “manifest itself in competition”, with the Stormers beginning their campaign against the Hurricanes at Newlands on February 1 (3.05pm kick-off).

But another major motivational tool this season will be the fact that it’s the last one at Newlands.

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Dobson himself has visited the old ground since his school days, and wants the Stormers to sign off in style before moving to the Cape Town Stadium next year.

“They are reporting at Newlands that people are phoning for season tickets, which I think hasn’t happened for a while, and which I think is brilliant. There is going to be a lot of emotion, and it’s got to work in our favour,” he said.

“We absolutely love Newlands, and there is only one real way to say farewell - we don’t want to over-talk what we are going to do in the competition, but we all know how the ending should look like at Newlands, and we will give everything to give that.

“It has to be a Super Rugby late-stage, if not last-stage play-off. And that’s the way to say goodbye to the great old lady of South African rugby.”

@ashfakmohamed

 

IOL Sport

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