Champions Cup: Stormers boss John Dobson expecting risky clash against Harlequins in Cape Town

·3-min read
 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Stormers head coach John Dobson expects a risky clash when his charges face Harlequins at Cape Town Stadium in the Champions Cup round-of-16 on Saturday.

The knockout match-up will see two teams who both play an attacking brand of rugby that are willing to take risks in search of the reward collide.

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England international Marcus Smith epitomises that in a Quins shirt, as does the impressive Manie Libbok in the Stormers jersey.

Ideal conditions

Weather conditions are forecasted to be ideal for running rugby, and that is what a projected 50,000 fans can expect on Saturday.

Dobson knows the potential danger of the Premiership side who throw the ball around in English conditions and hopes they do not find their stride in Cape Town’s more suitable weather.

“If they get quick ball and click in our conditions, they can put us under real pressure defensively. I just hope they don’t click,” Dobson said.

“I saw them put 40 points on Exeter a couple of weeks ago. I think they deserve enormous credit for the type of rugby they play. To play rugby like this in English conditions the way they do, it’s amazing.

“It is a high-risk game and some days it doesn’t happen for them. But to play this style in south-west London, it’s great for rugby.”

Knockout rugby

Dobson admits the fact that the game is a knockout makes the clash intriguing and forces the team to manage expectations, as only a win will suffice.

“We can either be here next week, at Sandy Park (in England) or off. That’s a stark grounder and shows the nature of this knockout competition,” Dobson said.

“There’s a dream of playing knockout rugby here (this week) and (possibly) next week. It’s in our hands to be amongst the top eight in Europe and South Africa.

“Harlequins are a good team, there are two international props.

“There’s the English axis at halfback with (centre) Andre Esterhuizen who was the Players’ Player of the Season in the Premiership last season. So there’s a couple of reasons to keep the expectations in check.”

Without new star

Meanwhile, the Stormers will be without new signing Ruben van Heerden, who is cup-tied after representing Exeter Chiefs in the pool stage.

Dobson admits he always knew this was the case when signing the second-row, and the team is prepared for it.

“Ruben’s absence won’t be a loss for us. We have prepared for it. We knew about it since when we signed him,” he said.

“He initially came here on a short term contract, but he was always cup-tied because he played for Exeter against the Bulls and Castres.

“We’ve signed him long-term now, which is brilliant but we knew he could not play Heineken Cup games.”

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