John Dobson (Gallo Images)
- The Stormers will use co-captains as the 2021 United Rugby Championship gets under way.
- Coach John Dobson says he is “blessed” to have leaders like Ernst van Rhyn and Salmaan Moerat.
- Moerat is returning from a neck injury that threatened his career.
Stormers coach John Dobson has explained his decision to appoint Ernst van Rhyn and Salmaan Moerat as co-captains heading into the United Rugby Championship (URC).
The Stormers confirmed the decision on Thursday ahead of a European tour that will see them take on Benetton Treviso, Munster, Edinburgh and the Dragons as the URC finally gets under way.
Moerat was named the franchise’s vice-captain at the start of a year, but was subsequently ruled out with a severe neck injury that threatened his career.
With regular captain Steven Kitshoff away with the Springboks, Van Rhyn took over the captaincy for the 2021 Currie Cup, which saw Western Province lose to the Bulls in the semi-finals.
This, though, is a new beginning, and Dobson has recruited wisely to bulk up for his side’s northern hemisphere challenge.
Flyhalf Manie Libbok and lock Adre Smith were signed on three-year contracts this week, while loose forwards Junior Pokomela and Willie Engelbrecht and scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer were secured on loan deals.
It all contributes to a new-look Stormers outfit, and now they have a new leadership structure with Van Rhyn and Moerat joining forces.
“They’re both exceptional leaders, and both captained at SA U-20 level. It would have been hard to choose between them,” said Dobson.
“We know the load of the four games, and Ernst is already red-lining in terms of minutes played.
“Salmaan, meanwhile, has just come back from a very serious injury, and he also has to work with calling the lineouts while Ernst is one of the best at putting some pressure on a referee that I’ve come across.
“It’s literally just to share it. We’re on tour in a tense environment and with a big group. There are 46 people so for one man playing-wise, rugby-wise, load-wise … it’s too much for one man.”
Dobson added that the nature of Moerat’s injury meant that he didn’t want to put the 23-year-old under any added pressure.
“A neck is not a hamstring,” said Dobson.
“It’s something you want to be careful with when you get back, so it’s just about trying to share the load there.
“We’re blessed to have two amazing leaders.”
The Stormers’ first match against Benneton takes place on 25 September.
Stormers touring squad:
Forwards: Justin Basson, Dian Bleuler, Kwenzo Blose,
Willie Engelbrecht, Neethling Fouche, Deon Fourie, Brok Harris, JJ
Kotze, Leon Lyons, Salmaan Moerat (co-captain), Scarra Ntubeni, Junior
Pokomela, Evan Roos, Sazi Sandi, Adre Smith, Marcel Theunissen, Ernst
van Rhyn (co-captain), Andre-Hugo Venter, Nama Xaba
de Jongh, Paul de Wet, Dan du Plessis, Warrick Gelant, Tristan Leyds,
Manie Libbok, Godlen Masimla, Ruhan Nel, Sergeal Petersen, Rikus
Pretorius, Tim Swiel, Stefan Ungerer, Edwill van der Merwe, Leolin Zas