Champions Cup: Stormers to rely on young stars in Leolin Zas’ absence

Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu is raring to go for the Stormers following his return to fitness, and ahead of his Champions Cup debut, he has spoken of Damian Willemse’s impact on his development. Credit: Alamy
Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu is raring to go for the Stormers following his return to fitness, and ahead of his Champions Cup debut, he has spoken of Damian Willemse’s impact on his development. Credit: Alamy

The Stormers are set to rely on their young stars as the prolific Leolin Zas has returned to Cape Town following a muscle injury against Glasgow Warriors last weekend.

The loss of last season’s top try scorer in the United Rugby Championship is a hefty one for the Stormers, but the Capetonians are grateful to have some talented young stars to step in.

Talent ready to go

One is Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, who is fit and ready to go after being injured during a South Africa ‘A’ match in November last year.

The return of the young prodigy could spark a rejig of the backline for the Champions Cup fixture against London Irish.

However, assistant coach Rito Hlungwani believes the team is still in a good place despite losing their try-scoring winger.

“Zas has flown back home because of his injury,” Hlungwani said.

“It is a tough loss but we have to carry on.

“Luckily, we do have good enough cover. Suleiman has played in that position before and is here with us. It’s not the end of the world.

“Stefan Ungerer and Sacha have been training well. Those two guys have come back from injury.

“We have enough numbers to cover. There’s plenty of variations for us. Sacha can play at 12, so we could maybe move Damian [Willemse] to fullback and Blomme [Clayton Blommetjies] to the wing. We are happy with where we are, even though it’s sad that Zas can’t play this game.”

Moving forward

Hlungwani claims the Stormers did not dwell on the final try against Glasgow that stole the game 24-17 and has instead looked to sharpen their mindset and reduce errors.

“We didn’t spend much time analysing that last try. We felt there were a lot of little errors that we made in the game. We had a lot of opportunities to score more points and to win the game,” he said.

“There were a lot of things that were in our control. Our mindset has always been to improve and get better. If we improve those little things, we won’t find ourselves in that same situation.

“Yes, this is a bit of a character test for us. At the same time, we feel strongly that we had a lot of opportunities that we missed out on.”

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