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‘Some good signs’ from Springbok hooker Joseph Dweba at Stormers

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Cape Town – It’s been a real rollercoaster ride for Joseph Dweba in 2022.

He made the big move back from Bordeaux in France to the Stormers, but before he could join up with the Cape side, he was picked for the Springboks.

It was a difficult introduction to Test rugby for the former Cheetahs star, and he went from starting against the All Blacks to being relegated to the South Africa A side on the recent tour of Europe.

An openside flank in veteran Deon Fourie took Dweba’s place as the third-choice hooker in the Bok squad, so he has his work cut out to get back into the national side ahead of the Rugby World Cup next year.

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But you have to start somewhere, and the 27-year-old took his first step by starring for the Stormers in their 36-19 United Rugby Championship victory over the Scarlets at Cape Town Stadium last Friday.

It was an action-packed 50-odd minutes from the robust No 2, who carried the ball with the kind of venom last seen in the Cheetahs jersey, and he was accurate with his lineout-throwing – which had been his major challenge at Test level.

It just looked like the old Dweba that first came to prominence in Bloemfontein, and he will hope to produce a repeat performance in Saturday’s clash against the Dragons at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha (2pm kickoff).

“Joseph is one of those guys who haven’t played a lot of rugby. He travelled quite a bit with the Springboks and got a bit of game-time there,” Stormers forwards coach Rito Hlungwani said this week.

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“But he’s one of those guys that we as a coaching staff know we have to be patient with. We need to make sure that we give him as much game-time as possible, and we know with more games, he will slowly return to his best.

“I spoke to him, and he knows that he is not operating at full capacity yet. But there were some good signs with what we will still see in the near future.”

What made Dweba’s display even better was the fact that he had a rookie in Gary Porter at No 5 lock. The 26-year-old Porter was on his URC debut, having played for UCT and then in England for Ealing.

He hadn’t had much top-level experience, but handled the pressure well against the Scarlets.

Porter could be called on again this weekend by coach John Dobson, as Marvin Orie has just returned home from the Bok tour after starring in the wins over Italy and England.

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“It was quite pleasing to see him get a chance. I met Gary for the first time in 2015, when he first came into the (Western Province) Institute – coming from Durban, Michaelhouse… A skinny little guy,” Hlungwani, himself a former No 5 lock, giggled.

“But he’s had to fight. He didn’t play SA Schools, and at the Institute, he was up against Eduard Zandberg and Jaco Willemse, who are currently not playing.

“So, he’s always had to fight for his position, and he’s got that hard edge around him because he built that resilience over the years.

“He’s had to go the hard way to make it, and it was quite brilliant to see him operating the lineouts really well, and with good confidence – it was quite a proud moment, when I remembered how he was at 18 and 19, and seeing him now. It was such a beautiful moment, and I felt like a very proud coach.”

@ashfakmohamed

IOL Sport

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