Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Simelane is ‘going to be special’ for Stormers, says coach Dobson

With Ulster next up for the Stormers this weekend, Dobson now has a bit of a selection headache on his hands.

Former Lions and Bulls utility back Wandisile Simelane put in a statement performance over the weekend as he helped the Stormers power to an impressive 43-21 win over Edinburgh in the United Rugby Championship (URC) in Cape Town on Saturday.

It was arguably Simelane’s best performance since leaving the Lions in 2022, where he made a number of sparkling performances before falling out of favour, moving onto the Bulls where he was unable to secure a regular starting berth.

A season ending knee injury to Ruhan Nel in December then saw the Stormers opt to bring Simelane in to bolster their backline, while there were hopes his move would reignite his career, as it did for his good friend Hacjivah Dayimani when he made the move from the Highveld to the coast.

First start

Simelane made his debut for the Stormers off the bench against the Sharks in Durban last month, while this past weekend was his first start, playing in his preferred outside centre role, and coach John Dobson admitted his showing had given him plenty to think about.

“If I was to replay the game (against the Bulls) at Loftus… we thought hard about playing him there, on that field against his old team, and Dan (du Plessis) is not really a 13, maybe I made a mistake. He was very good today,” said Dobson after the match.

“Wandi is going to be special. What you can all forget about, like Joseph Dweba’s lineout throwing, don’t worry about Wandisile’s defence. He understands our system completely.”

Selection headache

With Ulster next up for the Stormers this weekend, Dobson now has a bit of a selection headache as fullback Warrick Gelant is expected to return from injury, while wing Ben Loader is back to full fitness and ready for a start.

Suleiman Hartzenberg, who scored a hattrick on the right wing against Edinburgh, has played regularly at outside centre, while man-of-the-match Damian Willemse could also shift into the midfield if Gelant slots back in at fullback, so it will be interesting to see who makes the cut.

“You almost want two of them to get injured, so you don’t go through that,” Dobson said jokingly.

“It’s very tricky. Wandi was great and you have to keep Suleiman in the team. We are thrilled with Ben Loader and Warrick is coming back. It’s tomorrow’s problem.”

Quality attack

The Stormers were happy to get back to their attacking best, after their heavy loss against the Bulls at the start of the month, as they outscored Edinburgh seven tries to three, but Dobson claimed that they still weren’t ruthless enough as they left a number of scoring opportunities out there.

“It felt like a bit of our spark was back. It felt like that a lot more today, the way we want to play and our intensity, which is what Salmaan (Moerat, Stormers captain) asked from the team before the game,” said Dobson.

“What’s frustrating is how many tries we left out, after two weeks ago in Pretoria. It was probably double that today. But that’s not a technical thing. It’s not like something is wrong with our shape. I would rather have this than not being able to create those opportunities.”

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