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Stormers keeping Springbok trump cards close to their chest for Leinster clash

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Cape Town – The Stormers are keeping their Springbok trump cards close to their chests ahead of a monster United Rugby Championship (URC) clash against Leinster in Dublin on Friday (9.35pm kick-off).

Although one can deduce that Boks like captain Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe (props), utility back Damian Willemse and lock Marvin Orie have travelled with the defending URC champions to Ireland, the Cape franchise are trying to keep their involvement in this specific game at the RDS Arena a secret.

No squad was announced before their departure on Sunday, and they also did not make the names available this week.

Even forwards coach Rito Hlungwani could not divulge whether the Springboks are indeed in camp, although he alluded to the fact that it’s very difficult to lie, with a big smile on his face.

“I just can’t tell you if they are here or not,” Hlungwani said yesterday.

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“They’ve been training with us since they came back from the Springbok training camp, and they’ve been really doing well. It’s nice to have them around, but I can’t say anything without giving it away.

“We’ve had a full day of training (yesterday), and we will have one again (today), and the captain’s run. So, it helped us that we left Cape Town on Sunday already.”

Hlungwani further said that they are preparing for a massive onslaught from the home side, and it does not matter if they play their full-strength side or rest some of their top players.

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He referred to the old PRO14 joke of Leinster ‘A’ being the best team in the competition, with Leinster ‘B’ being second-best.

The Stormers’ win record away from home this season is not remarkable, and the coaches want to see the team improve.

Against Leinster, though, this will be a difficult task.

“It’s a game we want to use to further develop ourselves in playing overseas and getting the results. We have to be able to come overseas and be comfortable with winning games. Leinster play with speed and deception, and it’s something we want to fight this Friday.

“It doesn’t matter who they will start: they are always a dangerous team.”

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Meanwhile, Malherbe told the Stormers website yesterday that he was relishing being back on the park after a lengthy break.

“The Springbok camp was tough, but it gave us a good base to start with after our break. But how’s that for your first game back? Playing the log leaders away,” the Bok tighthead said.

“They are unbeaten this season and are a very, very good side.

“It’s awesome to be back, we had a nice week of prepping and I am very keen. Hopefully we can execute what we have been working on in training.

“I don’t think it’s about laying down a marker or looking ahead to the play-offs. I know it’s a cliché, but we can only focus on the now and this weekend’s game.

“We have to have very good plans against a top Leinster side, and execute them as well as we can.

“If we meet them again later, then we can have clarity on whether those plans worked. We can bin those things that didn’t work and focus on stuff that got you rewards in this game.

“It’s leaning more towards the technical side of things, rather than laying down a marker before the knockout rounds.”


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