Stormers sharpening their 'Swiss army knife'
SPOTLIGHT: Clayton Blommetjies is not a story of a shooting star, but rather of a player who’s more akin to a Swiss army knife – versatile, dependable, and always ready to step up where needed.
His story is one of a triumphant return to the Western Province under the savvy leadership of Stormers coach John Dobson.
Dobson, known for seeing the pitch as a giant chessboard, recognized a king in Blommetjies, a player who had spent most of his career acting as a rook or a bishop.
Blommetjies was a man willing to say: “Coach, use me where you need me, whether it’s the Stormers in the United Rugby Championship or Western Province in the Currie Cup, whether it’s a full eighty or the last gasping eight. I’m your man.”
To appreciate Blommetjies’s journey to Saturday’s United Rugby Championship Grand Final against Munster at Cape Town’s Stadium, you have to go back to the off-season when Dobson eyed Blommetjies as a successor to Warrick Gelant.
Blommetjies didn’t just fill Gelant’s boots, he wore them like they were tailor-made. Thirteen starts out of sixteen URC matches, six tries, and two conversions to boot – that’s a stat line that would make any coach grin.
He also dipped his toes into the Champions Cup, starting two matches out of four, and represented Western Province in the Currie Cup. Blommetjies is a player for all seasons, as happy to take the field in Cape Town as in Bloemfontein, in Welkom against the Griffons or on Saturday in the Grand Final of the URC.
Dobson, ever the appreciative coach, acknowledged Blommetjies’ value.
“Clayton was the closest we would get to what Warrick had given us in strike power,” he confessed.
It wasn’t just Blommetjies’ speed, but his mindset, his quick melding with flyhalf Manie Libbok, that impressed Dobson.
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“They both have a similar attacking mindset and they both gelled very quickly with Manie as our No.10.”
Blommetjies’ homecoming to Western Province and the Stormers is more than just a tale of rejuvenation.
It’s a testament to a culture, a mantra of ‘team before self’ that echoes through the Stadium.
Here’s a player who, as Dobson puts it, “was particularly impressed with his all-round game, his composure, and the experience from playing 200 professional matches.”
Blommetjies’ story isn’t just his own; it reflects the ethos of an entire squad.
“We are a team made up of so many players from this region, some who have been in the professional system since they became seniors and others, who were schooled in the Western Cape, left and have come back,” Dobson said, adding: “It speaks volumes for what we are achieving as a squad where youngsters want to stay, and more senior players want to return.”
So here’s to Clayton Blommetjies – a man willing to step into the fray wherever he’s needed, epitomising the very essence of the Stormers’ spirit.
As for his future? Whether he starts or finishes is at Dobson’s behest.
The only certainty is that he’ll be ready.