Cape Town – Stormers coach John Dobson expects a fierce battle up front in Saturday’s South African Super Rugby derby against the Bulls at Newlands.
The Stormers started the season like a house on fire when they thumped the Hurricanes 27-0 at Newlands last weekend, with the hosts dominating their Kiwi opponents up front.
The Hurricanes were pummelled at scrum time and came second best in the physical battle.
But Dobson expects a much sterner test this weekend in the north-south derby.
The coach addressed reporters at the Stormers’ High Performance Centre in Bellville on Tuesday where he said he had high regard for Bulls props Trevor Nyakane and Lizo Gqoboka.
Dobson said his two starting props – Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff – would have their hands full.
“Trevor and Lizo are really excellent props. We had a plan last week which sort of went to plan, but I think with Trevor and Lizo against Frans and Kitsie… there would be a lot of pride at stake there… they’re all proud competitors, all great props.
“So I don’t think we’ll get the same return… we’ve got a plan, but I think it will be a lot tighter for us at scrum time than it was last week,” Dobson stressed.
Dobson was also wary of the Bulls lock duo of Juandre Kruger and Andries Ferreira.
“It’s not going to be quite the same forward (dominance)… Juandre’s brilliant, Andries Ferreira is a tough competitor, a very good maul defender… it’s definitely going to be harder work for us this week.”
Dobson did not hide his disappointment at losing skipper Siya Kolisi – who suffered a knee injury after a late tackle from Hurricanes hooker Ricky Riccitelli.
The coach confirmed that Kolisi suffered a Grade 3 medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear and would be out for between six to eight weeks.
But there is enough leadership in the Stormers team to make Dobson rest easy.
“If you look and Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe and Pieter-Steph du Toit… it’s magic,” Dobson said of the leadership options up front.
“Kitsie will captain the team this week, with Pieter-Steph probably finishing (the game as captain) like it was last week.”
The Stormers team will be named on Thursday, with Saturday’s derby at Newlands scheduled for 17:15.