Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer


Second goodbye for Stormers captain Steven Kitshoff in URC semi

Kitshoff admitted that the pressure was on the home team because as the hosts and competition defending champions the fans expect them to win.


Departing Stormers captain Steven Kitshoff gets an unexpected second chance to say goodbye to the Cape Town faithful when his side battle it out in their United Rugby Championship (URC) semi-final against Connacht at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

Kitshoff is set to depart the Stormers for fellow URC side Ulster at the conclusion of the season and after the quarter-final line-ups were announced it was expected that their match against the Bulls (last weekend) would be their final at home, followed by a semi-final against his new team in Belfast.

ALSO READ: Fourie, Orie in doubt as Stormers sweat over stars ahead of URC semis

However, Connacht pulled off a massive upset to knock out their fellow Irish side, which gave the Stormers the opportunity to host a semi as well, which they secured by beating the Bulls.

‘Emotional’

There is still a chance that the Stormers could host the final, should they beat Connacht and Munster upset heavy favourites Leinster in the second semi, but that is unlikely to happen and this is probably Kitshoff’s swansong in Cape Town.

“It was emotional (against the Bulls) with how the game played out and the faithful cheering me on when I came off the field. But when we saw Connacht made it through we knew we had another shot at a home play-off. So I think it will be more emotional this weekend if I come off,” admitted Kitshoff.

“But there is still a job to do first and foremost. They (Connacht) are a tough team and also have been in a good run of form of late, with a couple of good wins. If we allow them to have their tails up, it’s going to be a long day at the office.

“We must get our stuff right quickly. Not giving them any chances, and taking the game away from them. It’s going to be a long journey over the equator (from Ireland), and there will be a lot of factors not in the travelling team’s favour.

“But there’s also the fact that they can pitch up and play a great game of rugby. We’ll have to be at our best to get the win.”

Pressure on Stormers

Kitshoff admitted that the pressure was on them because as the hosts and competition defending champions the fans expect them to win and move on to a second final in two years, but they will be challenged by a fired up Connacht side with nothing to lose.

“We want to make sure that we get through 80 minutes and that we play well. And hopefully, we will get a chance at the cup again. That is the motivation for the next two weeks,” said Kitshoff.

“They’re a physical side and are threatening at the breakdown. They have a good pack of forwards that operate well. After we viewed the game on Monday, we saw a lot of threats. So, there is pressure on us because they are not expected to win. All the pressure is on us.”