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VIDEO: 'Strategic calls' - Dobson's balancing act for Champions Cup

SPOTLIGHT: Stormers head coach John Dobson admits that a lot of “strategic calls” will have to be made over the next few weeks as the Champions Cup takes centre stage.

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The Capetonians are back home after a four-week United Rugby Championship tour and they are currently preparing to face Zebre Parma in a Round Seven clash in Stellenbosch on Saturday.

They will then travel to England where they will face Leicester Tigers in their Champions Cup opener next Sunday before returning to Cape Town ahead of a match against reigning European Champions La Rochelle on a Saturday.

“One of the lessons from last year came when we played Exeter away in a [Champions Cup] quarterfinal and then we came back here and played Munster at home [in the URC].

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“Munster were in Cape Town before us and that is problematic.

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“We will probably be strategic around the Leicester game, so maybe not everybody goes [to England] just because of the six-day turnaround.

“We are going to get back on the Tuesday and then play the two-time European Champions on Saturday afternoon at Cape Town Stadium.

“It’s definitely not going to be ‘full metal jacket’ for one team. It will more likely be a 50-50 for Leicester.

“Probably the guy who is definitely playing La Rochelle would stay behind.

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“It would probably be a strategic selection, but it is not an A or B [team].

“You have to be realistic. You can’t ask a guy like Ruben van Heerden to play Leicester for 80 minutes on a Sunday afternoon and come and do the same thing six days later via Doha in economy class against the European champions.

“Strategic calls will have to be made. Maybe a hybrid [team] against Leicester and then ‘full metal’ against La Rochelle.

“That is pretty much where we are at the moment.”

Playing time

The Stormers got several players back this week and some of them are World Cup winners in the form of Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse, Deon Fourie and Frans Malherbe.

However, Dobson will be managing them carefully against Zebre on Saturday.

“We got to be slightly careful given that they have been off and by all accounts relaxing pretty hard for a while,” Dobson explained.

“It’s more about not pushing a Manie Libbok through 80 minutes. I think they do need to get some rust off, but maybe not all of them.

“I don’t think they can go from nought to 80 minutes. We have to be pretty clever with our selection, but I am not going to keep them in cotton wool and then throw them into a Leicester or La Rochelle game.

“I think they need this kind of game [against Zebre] to get them back into proper rugby.”

@rugby365com

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