The return of several Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks will provide a massive boost to the Stormers in the 2020 Super Rugby season. This is the view expressed by new Stormers coach John Dobson , who addressed reporters at the team’s High Performance Centre in Bellville on Monday.
Eight Stormers Springboks – captain Siya Kolisi, flank Pieter-Steph du Toit, lock Eben Etzebeth, props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, centre Damian de Allende and scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies – were part of the victorious World Cup squad and Dobson said he was looking forward to their return.
The coach confirmed that only two of those Boks – Etzebeth (Toulon, France) and De Allende (Panasonic Wild Knights, Japan) – would not be available for the next Super Rugby campaign.
“It’s given us a massive boost,” Dobson said of the World Cup winners’ return.
“The opposition teams will sit down and see five of that pack that played in the World Cup final… it’s going to give us a lot of confidence.”
Dobson added that the Boks were set to join early in December, but he may opt to give them more time off after a gruelling week in which they toured the country on the Springboks’ trophy parade.
“It was going to be the second of December, with the exception of Pieter-Steph (as per agreed in his contract), but the players have spent a week on a bus, so we may be pushing (their return) back a week or two.”
Dobson said the manner in which he manages his top Springboks will be crucial.
“There is a management issue around it because six or seven of our first nine games are home games. And from a business point of view, a public expectation point of view and from a log point of view we need to win those games because we only tour very late.
“So, we can’t run out without Siya and Pieter-Steph in the first few games. We need those wins and we need people at Newlands.
“We have to get momentum early, so it’s going to be a management issue… bringing them back into rugby, getting them conditioned over Christmas. It’s a tough thing to manage.”
Dobson added that it had been a strange pre-season because of the World Cup.
“It was slightly bizarre because we started pre-season on October 1 which is unusual. Normally we’ll be playing the Currie Cup finals the last Saturday of October. The (2020 Super Rugby) competition starts two weeks earlier, but Super Rugby preparations normally start in the middle of November.
“So it’s been a challenge from a timing point of view but a hell of a challenge around the break, because you have to give the guys off over Christmas, and then we come back and I think our first friendly is on January 6.
“And we’ve a had a lot of players in the World Cup squad and players out on loan… so it’s been challenging in that we’ve been working with a lot of juniors. But we’re nowhere near working with the team that’s going to run out on February 1.”
The Stormers also announced that their Super Rugby squad will be confirmed in due course, as will Dobson’s management team.
The Cape franchise open their 2020 Super Rugby campaign at home against the Hurricanes at Newlands on Saturday, February 1.