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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Salmaan Moerat set to lead from the front for Stormers against Lions as URC season gets underway

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Stormers and Springbok lock Salmaan Moerat is expected to be fit and ready to lead the Stormers this weekend in Johannesburg when they take on the Lions in the opening round of the United Rugby Championship.

Moerat was recently made permanent captain after URC-winning prop Steven Kitshoff departed Cape Town for Ulster ahead of the new club rugby season.

The Bok lock has captained the team before and has his sights set on continuing where Kitshoff left the team, but obviously, the goal of winning more trophies is at the top of the list.

Although he was not part of the Stormers’ preseason matches, he has been training full steam with the team for quite some time now and is ready to set foot on the pitch at Ellis Park on Saturday (4pm kickoff) after fully recovering from a serious knee injury. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament last December and hasn’t played since. The Paarl-born former Junior Bok captain also missed out on the World Cup due to the injury.

But it’s understood that he is ready to take up the captain’s armband in what could be a tricky first match at Ellis Park for him and his troops.

The Stormers will play without their Boks – Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse, Deon Fourie and Frans Malherbe – who are currently at the World Cup. Libbok has been their game-driver for the last couple of seasons and has hardly missed games, but the Stormers should have enough firepower to win.

They will have a formidable loose-trio combination, settled scrumhalves, and a possible midfield combination of Dan du Plessis and Ruhan Nel who spearheaded their defensive campaign for the last two seasons.

Moerat is expected to partner up with Ruben van Heerden who was one of the Stormers’ top buys last season at a time when they had a mini lock crisis. They are both physical players, but equally adept at the lineout.

There could also be a potential Stormers debut for Courtnall Skosan at his former team. He knows his way around Ellis Park and will be ready to grab the opportunity should he be selected to face the Lions.

@LeightonK

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