Stormers' recruitment plan under the spotlight
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: With rugby in South Africa earmarked to start in October, sides have been working relentlessly to get up to competition standards.
The Southern Kings have revealed they have halted all training, meaning the franchise will not be part of South Africa’s redefined domestic competition scheduled to start on October 10.
The Sharks and Bulls have been busy since the halt of the season, with both franchises signing big names respectively.
For the Bulls, it was the return of Springboks Duane Vermeulen and there also some shock deals with former Stormers duo Gio Aplon and Nizaam Carr signing for the Pretoria side.
The Sharks, certainly in a more favourable position, managed to keep World Cup-winning Springboks Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi and Sibusiso Nkosi in Durban.
The likes of Curwin Bosch and rising star Aphelele Fassi also committed their future to the side.
At the Stormers, the COVID-19 pandemic produced a different bag of results.
The Cape Town franchise’ ongoing battle in the boardroom has headlined the news and certainly placed a cloud over the franchise as a brand.
In terms of the squad, since the halt of the season, they have lost services of Springboks Wilco Louw and Dillyn Leyds, while high-profile players Jean-Luc du Plessis and Cobus Wiese also opted to for greener pastures.
However, the cash-strapped Stormers managed to lure Warrick Gelant to the Cape.
*Article continues below…
While fans may worry about the lack of new recruits especially in the pack, Stormers forward coach Rito Hlungwani is confident there is more than enough talent to cover these absentees thanks to the franchise’ amazing “recruitment department”.
“It is always tough to lose a tighthead, especially a Springbok,” Hlungwani told reporters via a Zoom meeting on Wednesday.
“However it gives an opportunity for Neethling Fouché and other youngsters like Sazi Sandi to make a mark in that positons. We have not gone out to look for an alternative because we are very confident in our recruitment department and now it is just a matter of letting the guys play to gain experience.
“Cobus was also a big loss, but he hasn’t really been that consistent due to his struggles with injuries, therefore, we already had a plan for youngsters like David Meihuizen, Ernst van Rhyn and Johan du Toit.
“In terms of Jean-Luc du Plessis, Tim Swiel has slotted in nicely and is working very well with Damian Willemse.
“Christopher Schreuder and Kade Wolhuter [returning from France] are the other flyhalves that are well equipped for that position. Now it just a matter of picking up experience when the season resumes.
“Our recruitment department has done extremely well in making sure we have a good succession plan going forward.”
The Stormers returned to full-contact training after the latest round of tests showed minimal positive Covid-19 cases, which is a good omen for the domestic competition scheduled for next month.
“We are operating in a very strict environment and we have amazing doctors,” Hlungwani said.
“I think, on Monday, the Doc tested over 100 players and staff and we have had one positive case, which from our point of view is quite a brilliant result. It just shows us that our boys and the staff have taken this seriously and reduced their social circles.
“The person with the positive result has been pulled from the group and are currently in quarantine. I think that is how we will work whenever there is a positive case – the person will be isolated.”