Stormers: Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu taking ‘massive learnings’ from Damian Willemse

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

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.

2022 was a breakout year for the highly-rated youngster who captained the South African u20s, made his United Rugby Championship (URC) debut, featured for the South African A side and toured with the Springboks.

He sustained an injury in his South Africa A debut against Bristol Bears, denying him the opportunity to press for a Test debut. However, he says the layoff allowed him to reflect on his rise in 2022.

Special year

The talented playmaker was thrown into the deep end on debut for the Stormers when he replaced Rikus Pretorius just four minutes into the URC quarterfinal against Edinburgh. 

“2022 was indeed a special year, and there was so much I took away from the year,” Feinberg-Mngomezulu told the Stormers’ official website.

“It taught me things that I will take through for the rest of the life. I have to say the biggest learning, for me, was in the build-up to the quarterfinal and then match day. ‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity’ is what I took out of that period of time.

“Learning to listen before speaking and learning to prepare before doing was something I have cling onto ever since. 

“I learned that preparation and willingness to learn is what really sees you through your big moments and helps you to take opportunities with both hands, if or when they do arrive.”

Priceless Springbok experience

After impressing with the Junior Springboks and the Stormers, Feinberg-Mngomezulu earned a spot in the Springboks’ end-of-year touring squad, with the side dealing with a flyhalf injury crisis.

Although he suffered an injury in the South Africa A game against Bristol Bears, he believes he left the tour a better person and player.

“The upside of that tour was that I definitely left a better person and a better rugby player,” he said.

“I was so grateful to just ‘be in the room’, to hear the conversations and to see the high level of professionalism within that group of players. 

“I learned so much, and I’m just grateful the injury came later in the tour rather than earlier because what I experienced and learned in the first half was priceless.”

Willemse comparisons

While Feinberg-Mngomezulu’s preferred position is flyhalf, he is more than capable at inside centre and fullback. His versatility, playing style, and rapid rise have drawn comparisons to teammate Damian Willemse.

The rising star is working closely with Willemse and is taking learnings from the Springbok ace.

“I’ve learned tremendous amounts from Gaza, in terms of versatility, consistency and being able to adapt,” said Feinberg-Mngomezulu. 

“He’s hungry on defence, he consistently beats the first tackler, and his energy is unmatched – regardless of what position he plays. 

“I’ve taken massive learnings from that – in terms of consistency anywhere and at any time on the field.” 

The Stormers will look to claim successive victories over London Irish in the Champions Cup this weekend, having secured a 34-14 win in Cape Town in December. 

They take on the Premiership club on Sunday afternoon, kicking off at 13:00 BST/ 15:00 SAST.

READ MORE: The nine stat leaders heading into Round Three, including most metres, turnovers and tries

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