Wandisile Simelane ‘already loving the culture and vibe’ at Stormers

Wandisile Simelane wants to kickstart his career during his loan spell with the Stormers. Picture: Deon van der Merwe / INPHO / Shutterstock / BackpagePix

Wandisile Simelane wants to kickstart his career during his loan spell with the Stormers. Picture: Deon van der Merwe / INPHO / Shutterstock / BackpagePix

Published Jan 11, 2024


Hacjivah Dayimani breathed new life into his rugby ever since he moved to the Stormers a few years ago.

Now a star in Cape Town, he has tipped fellow former Lions player and a long-time friend Wandisile Simelane to do the same after moving down south from the Bulls.

Simelane linked up this week with the inaugural United Rugby Championship (URC) winners ahead of a crucial Champions Cup clash with the Sale Sharks at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday (7.30pm kick-off).

The 25-year-old Simelane is looking to start afresh after unsuccessful spells at the two Gauteng franchises, having show plenty of promise in his junior years. The Stormers are known for turning the careers of players around with Dayimani, flyhalf Manie Libbok, No 8 Evan Roos and wing Leolin Zas finding their feet again after struggling to gain a foothold at other SA sides.

According to Dayimani, Simelane arrived in good spirits at the Stormers’ training this week. He believes his best friend will slot in effortlessly.

“How we play is definitely a type of style that suits him, and I think he is going to excel at the Stormers,” Dayimani said this week of the new midfield recruit.

“I went to school with Simelane from Grade 8 to matric, went to the hostel together and to the Lions. He has been a long-time friend.

“I am very excited to see what is going to come out of it. It was just his first day with us (Monday), but he was already loving the culture and the vibe at the Stormers and, of course, he’s with his best friend.”

It’s unlikely that Simelane will be thrust straight into the Stormers’ side for Saturday’s Sale clash, having just joined team training.

But the Cape side definitely need his services, with regular outside centre Ruhan Nel on the long-term injury list. They only have two Champions Cup ties before a long break.

They will have some friendly clashes soon – including one overseas – to properly introduce Simelane to Stormers rugby.

“I fully think this environment will help him, especially (on defence) with a guy like Norman Laker, who is all about defence and one-on-one. He will pull you to the side and tell you what you are doing wrong. He is on your case every single day,” Dayimani said.

“I told him plenty of times that he has made the best decision. He was supposed to come in earlier, but I am very happy. Without a doubt, he has the X-factor and so much talent. If he works hard, I am convinced he could be one of the best players this country has ever seen.”*

Four or five points are a non-negotiable against Sale if the Stormers want to keep up with the two leading teams in their pool. A win will put them in a good position ahead of the final group clash in France against Stade Francais.

The Stormers are also on an unbeaten run of games at home this season in all competitions, and they will want to maintain the status quo in 2024.