'Unorthodox technique': Stormers reaping the rewards for backing Dweba
SPOTLIGHT: Springbok hooker Joseph Dweba is enjoying his rugby again because the Stormers are allowing him to be himself on the field.
The 27-year-old was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons last year when he was part of the Springboks’ setup for the series against Wales and the Rugby Championship.
His line-out throwing was not up to standard and eventually found himself relegated to the South Africa ‘A’ squad for the November tour.
The Stormers have been hard at work helping Dweba restore his confidence this season and it seems to have paid off with the hooker starting to produce more consistent performances for the franchise.
“When we sign a player it means we back the player. We believe in their abilities,” said Stormers forwards coach Rito Hlungwani.
“When Joseph first got her I said: ‘You got to have a strong heart’.
“The thing about him is that numbers don’t lie. Sometimes one skew line-out or one overthrow can cloud the fact that you have thrown 42 line-outs and you have only missed two.
“If I wasn’t a coach and if I was maybe a keyboard warrior or spectator, I would probably just look at the two missed line-outs. However, from my point of view, I think Joseph has really done well since he has been here and the numbers are there to show it.
“The key thing is that he must back himself. I am not concerned about one or two bad throws or anything like that.
“The big picture counts for me and I think that has really helped him relax and he understands that he fits in well in that picture.
“We just want everyone to be themselves and enjoy their game. There has been some good improvement around certain parts of his game.”
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‘A champion team’
Dweba opened up on the conversation he had with Hlungwani when he arrived in Cape Town.
“The coaches backed me when I came from France,” said Dweba, who played for Bordeaux for a couple of seasons before heading to Cape Town.
“We had a conversation and he [Hlungwani] said: ‘Listen, I want you to enjoy rugby again like when you did at the Cheetahs. I want you to come here and give your all. It doesn’t matter what people are saying out there’.
“Coming to a Champion team like the Stormers, it was just amazing. The guys are as humble as you could imagine and it was just amazing to fit in and just put in what I can as well.
“I came with a little bit of experience from France in terms of scrumming and playing around the park with the ball. So for me, it was just easy to fit in and I am just enjoying it.”
On that culture at the Stormers, Dweba added: “Being with a winning team helps a lot.
“There are people that drive the team like Manie Libbok and Marvin Orie.
“I am just enjoying that freedom of carrying the ball again.
“I wouldn’t say that I am there yet [in terms of performance], but I am slowly but surely getting there.”
What sets Dweba apart from other hookers is his throwing technique and it was something that Hlungwani embraced.
“I watched him when he was at the Free State Cheetahs and I was quite comfortable that he could throw,” said the coach.
“What a lot of people don’t know is that Joseph has an unorthodox throwing technique and they tried to change that in France.
“When he arrived here, I said: ‘You throw the way you want to throw as long as the ball is straight and it gets into the lock’s hands’.
“I think he has just found himself. He excepted that he throws slightly differently and we back his technique because it is giving us the balls that we want and we are very comfortable with it and he is now comfortable with it.”