Stormers’ loosehead count improves before Wales and Ireland tour

07 May 2024 - 15:28
By Liam Del Carme
Stormers prop Sti Sithole has been restored to fitness and will tour with the squad in Wales and Ireland.
Image: Malcolm Couzens (Getty Images) Stormers prop Sti Sithole has been restored to fitness and will tour with the squad in Wales and Ireland.

Though still missing key personnel, the Stormers will be buoyed by the return of Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Sti Sithole, Angelo Davids and Kwenzo Blose as they try to secure a place in the top four of the United Rugby Championship.

The Stormers, fifth on the table, have remaining league matches against the Dragons in Newport on Friday, Connacht in Galway a week later and a home tie against the Lions.

It is great to have the likes of Sacha, Angelo, Sti and Kwenzo back in the group and we are looking forward to the challenges that await us in Newport and Galway,” said head coach John Dobson.

The return of loosehead Sithole, in particular, will be a welcome sight for the Stormers. His return, with Blose, is timely as it helps alleviate pressure on their loosehead resources with Ali Vermaak and Lizo Gqoboka still on the injured list.

He [Sithole] stands out because he hasn’t played in a while but has been training,” said Stormers forwards coach Rito Hlungwani.

“'Sti' has done really well. I’m not saying Brok Harris or Kwenzo didn’t do well in his absence, but we are happy he is back at training.

His scrum work especially. When he’s in there, he competes well. He wins a lot of penalties. He operates well with Neethling [Fouche], Frans [Malherbe] and the hookers.

He is a big gain for us going into the business end of the competition.

We are happy to have him back. We want him fit so he can push to play 60 minutes. That’s our next job, to get him game fit again.”

Feinberg-Mngomezulu's influence in midfield may provide much-needed thrust at the business end of the season. Davids' return is manna with injuries on the wing limiting Dobson's options.

Dobson said last week he intended going full throttle in selection in their remaining league matches as his team cannot afford to bow out.

The congested nature of the log shows how competitive the United Rugby Championship has been this season. We will need to be at our best if we are going to get the results we need.”

He, however, still has a lengthy injury list with wings Leolin Zas, Ben Loader and Courtnall Skosan, centre Ruhan Nel, scrumhalf Paul de Wet, loose forwards Keke Morabe, Deon Fourie and Nama Xaba, utility forward Hendre Stassen and props Gqoboka and Vermaak not considered for selection.

Stormers touring squad

Backs: Angelo Davids, Dan du Plessis, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Warrick Gelant, Suleiman Hartzenberg, Herschel Jantjies, Manie Libbok, Wandisile Simelane, Stefan Ungerer, Damian Willemse.

Forwards: Kwenzo Blose, Hacjivah Dayimani, Ben-Jason Dixon, Joseph Dweba, Willie Engelbrecht, Neethling Fouche, Brok Harris, JJ Kotze, Frans Malherbe, Salmaan Moerat (captain), Evan Roos, Sti Sithole, Adre Smith, Marcel Theunissen, Ruben van Heerden, Andre-Hugo Venter.