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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Can Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu help Stormers ‘lift standards’ against Munster?

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You know it does not bode too well for the Stormers against champions Munster tonight (7.15pm SA time kick-off) when one of their favourite sons, Jean de Villiers, predicts a home victory in Limerick.

De Villiers points to the difficulty of winning on the road in the United Rugby Championship that has been experienced in the first four rounds of the new tournament, and he is unconvinced that John Dobson’s team can halt their two-game losing run.

The Stormers lost a close game 17-20 against Benetton last week, while the previous week they were well beaten 9-20 by Glasgow.

“It’s been a pretty shaky start from the Stormers,” the former Springbok captain, who spent a season at Munster, said this week.

“Even their first game, against the Lions at Ellis Park, they almost lost it towards the end.

“Then, as we have seen with this competition, it’s really hard to tour and to get victories away from home.

“The Stormers have found that to be particularly hard this year, and the experience they are lacking with the Boks not being back makes it difficult to get victories. They are probably lacking a little bit of leadership.

“Playing Munster at Thomond Park is a tough task for any team.

“I think just in terms of where these two teams are at, it is difficult to see a Stormers victory,” De Villiers concluded.

One man who will be more determined than anyone to prove De Villiers wrong is wing Leolin Zas, who will play his 50th match for the Stormers.

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The prolific finisher has scored 25 tries in his 49 games for the Cape side since his debut in 2016.

The return to fitness of Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu means that Ruhan Nel moves to outside centre and Ben Loader to the wing, while Paul de Wet starts at scrumhalf.

Flank Willie Engelbrecht, lock Gary Porter, hooker Joseph Dweba and prop Sti Sithole all start up front.

Hooker André-hugo Venter and wing Angelo Davids are the only players on the bench that did not feature last week.

“Leolin has a fantastic story. He started out as a prodigious talent who suffered a major injury setback, and came back a different player,” Dobson said yesterday.

“He embodies the fighting spirit we want and we are thrilled for him to reach his half-century this weekend.

“We know that we will have to lift our standards in several areas this weekend, and the players who are coming in are all keen to make their presence felt.”

Stormers Team

15 Warrick Gelant 14 Ben Loader 13 Ruhan Nel 12 Sacha Feinberg-mngomezulu 11 Leolin Zas 10 Jean-luc du Plessis 9 Paul de Wet 8 Evan Roos 7 Ben-jason Dixon 6 Willie Engelbrecht, 5 Gary Porter 4 Ruben van Heerden 3 Neethling Fouché (captain) 2 Joseph Dweba 1 Sti Sithole.

Bench: 16 André-hugo Venter 17 Ali Vermaak 18 Brok Harris 19 Adré Smith 20 Keke Morabe 21 Herschel Jantjies 22 Clayton Blommetjies 23 Angelo Davids.

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