There were some concerns within the camp about Salmaan Moerat going on tour with the Stormers to New Zealand following last week’s terror attacks, but they showed their support to him and the rest of the Muslim community during Friday prayers in Wellington.
The Stormers are in the Kiwi capital city for Saturday’s Super Rugby match against the Hurricanes as part of a four-game tour that will see them face the Blues in Auckland next week.
They will then travel to Australia to take on the Reds in Brisbane and Rebels in Melbourne.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined a special Jumuah service in Christchurch on Friday, following the mosque attacks that saw 50 Muslims killed and another 50 injured last week Friday.
In Wellington, Moerat and Stormers strength and conditioning coach Riefaat Jappie were joined at a mosque by captain Siya Kolisi, Dillyn Leyds, Damian Willemse and team manager Chippie Solomon for Friday prayers.
Moerat said on Instagram: “Today we witnessed the love and perseverance the people of New Zealand have. Thank you to our brothers for coming along and supporting. Jummah mubarak to everyone.”
Moerat’s cousin Junaid – who is also a Western Province Rugby Union executive member, but spoke to IOL Sport in his personal capacity – said that Salmaan and Jappie appreciated the support of their teammates.
“Salmaan was thankful to Siya, Chippie and the guys for accompanying him to mosque. He wanted to show solidarity with the people of New Zealand after what happened in Christchurch last week,” Junaid Moerat said.
In a short address to a crowd estimated to be around 20 000 people outside the Al Noor mosque, Ardern said: “According to (the) Muslim faith, the Prophet Muhammad, Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam, said: ‘The Believers, in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy, are just like one body. When any part of the body suffers, the whole body feels pain’.
“New Zealand mourns with you. We are one.”
Meanwhile, Salmaan Moerat was also a late inclusion on the Stormers bench on Friday for the Hurricanes clash, after Eben Etzebeth was withdrawn from the starting line-up due to concussion.
Etzebeth took a blow to the head in last week’s 35-8 win over the Jaguares at Newlands.
JD Schickerling will take over from the Springbok enforcer at lock.
“We were hopeful that Eben would be fit to play against the Hurricanes, but unfortunately he did not come through some of the tests later in the week, so we made the call to give him another week to recover fully,” coach Robbie Fleck said.
“JD Schickerling has been in great form this season, and we are also excited about what Salmaan Moerat will do with this opportunity.”
15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 SP Marais, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Bench: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Dan du Plessis, 23 Damian Willemse.@ashfakmohamed