Three Stormers to watch out for when Super Rugby resumes
CAPE TOWN – We don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t know if Super Ruby will grace our fields in 2020 again or not, and even if it does, there’s no telling when.
However things may play out, here are three Stormers players to watch (for different reasons) when, or if, the competition resumes this year.
Godlen Masimla - to lock down the back-up scrumhalf spot
Right, so Springbok scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies will spend around three months in recovery after fracturing his fibula in the Stormers’ 24-14 loss to the Sharks in their last game, and while he’ is the undisputed number one No 9 at the Cape franchise, the back-up position hasn’t exactly been locked down yet.
There’s Paul de Wet, a wing/scrummy who of course has pace, and then there is Masimla, who in many ways is a similar player to Jantjies and not just because he can pull off an intercept try like Herschel, like the one he scored against the Lions after showing Morne van den Berg the kind of problems he can cause around the fringes. Yes, you can’t exactly compare the two. But Stormers coach John Dobson has good reason to be excited about the 27-year-old Masimla.
Masimla’s rugby resume has always featured speed, solid defence, fine work across the ground and around the fringes and, overall, he is a treat on attack. His kicking game has also been looking good.
Masimla has done well for the Stormers when he has got a chance this year, and there can be no doubt that he will want to beat De Wet to the second-in-command position although, given his talent, he shouldn’t be vying for a replacements jersey to begin with.
Rikus Pretorius - to make the No 12 jersey his
When news broke of Bok centre Damian de Allende’s departure last year, Dobson made no secret of his midfield concerns.
A big talking point towards the end of last season was how thin the Stormers were at inside centre. And even though that position should never really be an issue with a player of Dan du Plessis’ calibre in the mix, his unfortunate run with injuries has consistently moved him outside the circle of selection. There was also Pretorius, a Junior Bok star, who came into the Stormers frame last year, and then there was Welsh international Jamie Roberts, who started in every one of the Stormers’ games this season, but has since left the country to join his family in the United Kingdom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, Pretorius’ mission should now be to make sure that the digits 1 and 2 are glued to his back when Super Rugby is back on our screens.
Damian Willemse - the comeback
In the spirit of being melodramatic, let’s call it a comeback.
Sure, Willemse hasn’t been on fire in 2020 and his feet haven’t danced him into two dozen headlines for all the right reasons, but it wasn’t all bad, even though it was enough to justify more starting berths for Jean-Luc du Plessis. Willemse had particularly tough afternoons when his pack struggled and that’s happened a couple of times this season.
His kicking hasn’t been perfect, while his decision-making is perhaps also something that he will want to look into. However you see it, one thing is for sure - no one would mind seeing Willemse humiliate defences and, importantly, handle the game with the kind of maturity he has shown to possess at times, whether that’s at No 10 or 15. And if that can be labelled a comeback, then that’s exactly what I cannot wait to see.@WynonaLouw