Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Battle of the giants: Malherbe takes on Kitshoff in URC match

It is the first time Kitshoff will be facing off against his old side since his move to Ulster during the pre-season.

The Cape Town Stadium is set to witness an epic clash of the titans on Saturday when Springbok legends Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff go head-to-head as the Stormers take on Ulster in their United Rugby Championship (URC) match-up.

It is the first time Kitshoff will be facing off against his old side since his move to Ulster during the pre-season, which will bring a lot of excitement for everyone involved.

In last week’s win against Edinburgh, Malherbe made his return from an injury he suffered at the Rugby World Cup last year with a 40-minute showing, and he will hopefully get the chance to start again and take on his good friend and now rival Kitshoff.

Opposite sides

Malherbe and Kitshoff spent over a decade together at the Stormers and won two World Cups together with the Springboks, so they have faced off in training many times over the years, but this will be their first time fronting up against each other on opposite sides.

“They’ve scrummed against each other twice a week for the last 14 years. I think it’s going to be interesting, because they know each other so well. They are big mates,” said Stormers assistant coach Labeeb Levy.

“He’s (Kitshoff) a very good scrummager, but so is Frans. We are looking forward to it. It’s actually exciting for us to see Kitsie back at home. He has been here since his school days, skipping the age-group rugby to go straight to playing for the Stormers. He is a legend of Cape Town and a household name.

“We will welcome him, but when the referee blows the whistle, it will be a different story. But we are really happy to welcome him back and I’m sure there will be some tales to tell after the game.”

Loosehead reinforcements

On Monday the Stormers also boosted their loosehead prop stocks when they recalled Leon Lyons from his loan to the Griquas.

Against Edinburgh on Saturday, Lizo Gqoboka, making his return from injury, lasted only a few minutes after coming on in the second half before rolling his ankle, which looks to have ruled him out of action for the next few weeks at least.

This left them in a bit of a crisis with fellow looseheads Sti Sithole and Kwenzo Blose already out injured, while Ali Vermaak has been ruled out for the season.

This necessitated the return of Lyons, although Levy admitted that the Stormers were still analysing their options going forward.

“We are still toying with some options. Leon Lyons landed this (Monday) morning from Kimberley. He is one of the options we have. He is quite keen and fit and looks like the immediate go-to person,” Levy said.

“However, we are still speaking to various people and searching for who is available in the country and the world.”

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