Stormers wary of the marauding Bulls ahead of festive grudge match

The Stormers will be wary of Willie le Roux’s left boot. Picture: Samuel Shivambu / BackpagePix

The Stormers will be wary of Willie le Roux’s left boot. Picture: Samuel Shivambu / BackpagePix

Published Dec 20, 2023


The Stormers are primed to keep their winning record over South African teams in the United Rugby Championship intact, but they are wary of a Bulls onslaught on Saturday in Cape Town.

It’s been two-and-a-bit seasons since the former URC champions lost to their countrymen, and they are looking to keep it that way when the Bulls rocks up at the DHL Stadium (kick-off 7pm). But it’s a changed Bulls team arriving in the Mother City, one that has shown significant improvement in attacking play under head coach Jake White.

White’s men have a bone to pick with the Capetonians. They haven’t beaten their arch-rivals in the URC and White has lost six matches on the trot against the Stormers.

It’s something that will boost the Stormers, who will be buoyed by a win over European champions La Rochelle in their first home game at their fortress. They lost winger Ben Loader to a shoulder injury after he had a good outing against La Rochelle at the weekend.

Assistant coach Dawie Snyman confirmed yesterday that the Englishman will be out for a while, but they have adequate replacements in winger Courtnall Skosan, utility back Suleiman Hartzenberg and speedster Angelo Davids who is still returning from injury, but has been training.

While the Stormers are still looking to form combinations in the back three, the Bulls will most likely rock up with Springboks Willie le Roux, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie. According to Snyman, they will be wary of the Le Roux factor.

“We all know what Willie can do, he has the ability to make players around him look good,” said Snyman.

“He understands the game very well and how to create space for other players. His left boot gives them a kick(ing) option. He gives them a different dynamic.”

But it’s not just the Le Roux factor that the Stormers will have to nullify. There’s also the threat of a mobile Bulls pack and Springbok halfback combinations.

For the Stormers, though, it’s about building some rhythm and combinations, especially with their Boks returning to action recently. The Stormers’ World Cup winners Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse and Deon Fourie have only played two home games.

“We gave ourselves a 6/10 for this past weekend’s game but we still beat the European champions. There’s still lots to improve on, but also things to get excited about.

“It’s something (their playing style) they probably have worked on for a couple of seasons. It is not something that comes within a change of a season,” Snyman added of the Bulls’ running game.

“One or two players that came in also makes a difference. Wilco (Louw, prop) brings stability to the scrum. Willie’s ability to combine with other players. That is what they are doing well. There’s variation to their game and that’s a good challenge for us.”