Champions Cup: Deon Fourie braced for tough challenge against Clermont

Deon Fourie Stormers v Bulls URC final 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy
Deon Fourie Stormers v Bulls URC final 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

Stormers back-row Deon Fourie is preparing himself for a tough challenge when they face Clermont in their Champions Cup opener on Saturday.

The men from the Cape head into this fixture at the Stade Marcel-Michelin in excellent form as they are currently on a three-match winning streak in the United Rugby Championship and sit in third position in that tournament’s standings.

Not underestimating Clermont

By contrast, Clermont are languishing in 10th spot on the Top 14 table, after losing their last three matches in that competition, but Fourie is not taking the French outfit lightly and expects a big onslaught from them.

“Teams like Clermont are always packed with international stars and quality players,” he told the Citizen.

“I think that up front will be our biggest challenge at the start of the match.

“I think we saw with the French game against the Springboks on the end-of-year-tour they are quite dominant in the front row and they are quite evolved in that department as well. So we will need to handle that.

“They then have quality strike players at the back like Damian Penaud who has been scoring great tries for them and France. So I think it’s going to be an all-round good match.”

Fourie is no stranger to French rugby as he played for Lyon and Grenoble during a seven-year stint in that country and said most players tend to raise their game when they are playing in the Champions Cup.

“From my past experience when you go into the Champions Cup the guys tend to raise the level of their game because it’s such a prestigious competition,” said the Stormers and Springboks flanker.

“Teams also usually put in all of their big stars because it is such a big thing to win the Champions Cup,.

“So I think they will come out all guns blazing and it will be a good test for us as a squad playing in the European Cup for the first time.”

Difficult weather conditions

The Stormers will also have to adapt quickly to the weather in France as they can expect freezing temperatures on matchday.

“The weather was a bit of a shock, coming from Cape Town which was over 30 degrees and landing here at 0 degrees, but we will get used to it,” added Fourie.

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