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'He's going to hurt you': Willemse sends warning to teammates

SPOTLIGHT: After facing Stade Rochelais in a Champions Cup pool match in December, the Stormers are well aware of the threats that the French juggernauts pose ahead of Saturday’s Round of 16 tie in Cape Town.

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A late try by replacement Andre-Hugo Venter and a Manie Libbok conversion handed the Stormers a 21-20 win over the back-to-back champions in that previous encounter.

With players like Dillyn Leyds (a former Stormer), Jonathan Danty, Will Skelton, Levani Botia, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Grégory Alldritt in the visiting team, the Stormers face another mammoth task.

Botia produced a man-of-the-match performance in December, while captain Will Skelton was also a menacing presence in the physical exchanges.

“Will [Skelton] is a world-class player and I managed to train and play with him when I was at Saracens,” said Stormers star Damian Willemse. “We stayed together in the same house.”

Willemse added: “He is a great rugby player and he’s as tough as they come.

“We are going to have to try and shut down his time and space on the ball.

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“If you give a guy like him time, he is going to hurt you, so it is another battle for our forwards and for us as a team to look forward to.”

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Despite all those threats, Willemse is confident his team can end Stade Rochelais’ Champions Cup campaign.

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“They got a very balanced game,” said the double World Cup winner.

“They got big forwards, who can take you on physically and can take you on in the set-piece. But so do we.

“I think our pack has shown what they can do throughout the Champions Cup and URC, so it’s going to be a big clash.

“They got good outside backs, but so do we.”

Meanwhile, the Stormers revealed that they are still uncertain about Deon Fourie’s availability for Saturday’s match.

The veteran loose forward has been out of action since suffering an intercostal muscle rib injury in a 22-40 loss to the Bulls in the United Rugby Championship last month.

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