Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Stormers to build on current squad as Bok stars line up for return

The Stormers want to focus on retaining their current talent, despite the interest of some Springbok World Cup winners to join the team.

The Stormers will be aiming to build cohesion in their current squad as they target a sustainable future for the union after the Red Disa Consortium concluded their equity deal with Western Province rugby late last month.

Stormers Director of Rugby John Dobson and new CEO Johan le Roux fronted up to the media in Cape Town on Tuesday to speak about the deal which they believe will revolutionize Stormers and Western Province rugby.

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One of the key aspects that Dobson and Le Roux hammered home was that the Stormers had no interest in becoming a buying club and that they would focus on retaining their current talent, despite the interest of some Springbok World Cup winners to join the team.

Major focus

“Our major focus is going to be on cohesion, so that we can keep this squad together because we know how young and exciting it is. The more they play together the better they will get,” explained Dobson.

“We have the ability (to buy players) and there might be one or two more announcements, but nothing like us going to market.

“What has been remarkable is since this deal there have been a few World Cup Springboks who have rung up and said they’d like to come back, which is great for us. But the major project is growing cohesion in our current squad.”

The Stormers did however make a splash over the weekend when they announced that they had re-signed Bok prop Steven Kitshoff, after he left them for Ulster at the end of last season, with him only managing one season in Ireland before his return.

“Kitsie was a no-brainer. He is a leader, he is one of us, and was gone for a very short time. He is just so close to us and you have seen the problems we have had at loosehead (prop). So luckily because of this deal we were in a position to bring him back,” explained Dobson.

Secure future

Although the prospect of more Bok stars possibly joining the Stormers will be of big interest to fans, Dobson is just relieved that the long term future of the team has been secured going forward.

“It is a massive project and I had no idea of the scale of it. But the fact that they came in so quickly to say they were in was amazing. This is a dream environment for us as a team,” said Dobson.

“For us to work with people who have been incredibly patient and professional and have a real vision for what they want to do here is amazing. Our overwhelming feeling to Johan and his team is one of immense gratitude because we couldn’t have carried on like we were.

“Nor did we want to go down the route of some teams you see in Europe and elsewhere where you have some massive ego investors. Those projects collapse and you see three clubs disappearing from the (English) Premiership and one from the Championship in one year.

“As a team we are absolutely thrilled. We feel like we are backed and we are safe, and that there is a plan for the future around growing the commercial model which won’t have an impact on the squad.”