Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

URC semi-final game breakers: Stormers

The hosts will be looking to their star players to give them the edge in the match against Connacht.

The defending United Rugby Championship (URC) champions Stormers are ready and fired up to host Connacht in their semi-final clash at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Over 44000 people turned out to watch what was expect to be their final home game of the season last week, only for Connacht to upset Ulster, allowing the Stormers to have another home knockout, and they will be hoping for an even bigger turnout this week.

ALSO READ: URC semi-final preview – ‘Stormers have a responsibility to the fans’

The hosts will be looking to their star players to give them the edge in the match, here are three of their biggest potential game breakers.

Manie Libbok

Manie Libbok

The name on everyone’s lips after a blinding quarterfinal showing, Manie Libbok will again be a key figure in the Stormers’ attempts to reach a second consecutive URC final.

Libbok is also trying to impress the Springbok selectors ahead of the coming international season and another top showing will surely secure a spot in the setup ahead of the World Cup.

Libbok’s brilliant game awareness, incisive running and kicking, out of hand and at goal, are all massively important for the Stormers and will likely be on show again in the semi-final against Connacht.

Damian Willemse

Arguably the most important Springbok player at the moment, utility back Damian Willemse is constantly one of the Stormers’ most valuable weapons.

Willemse’s ability to play in almost any position across the backline is a huge advantage for the team, but he has been starring at fullback over most of the season.

His connection with Manie Libbok is also important and both players are almost interchangeable, slotting in each other’s positions throughout a match, which keeps the opposition on their toes. Willemse will be key in their efforts to reach the final.

 Evan Roos

After a breakout first season in the URC for Evan Roos, where he cleaned up most of the awards, it has been a bit of an underwhelming second season by those lofty standards.

However, it has been injury that has curtailed the young eighthman’s progress with two significant spells on the sideline that has set his progress back and he is still working his way back to his best.

But with limited places available in the Springbok squad for loose forwards for the World Cup, Roos is running out of opportunities to impress and will need to be at the top of his game against Connacht.