United Rugby Championship: John Dobson delighted with Stormers’ second South African Shield win
Stormers head coach John Dobson expressed his delight after his team were crowned United Rugby Championship South African Shield winners for the 2022/23 season.
Dobson admitted that it was somewhat unexpected but said it was remarkable that they managed the achievement with still three league matches left to play during the campaign.
“We weren’t expecting it at all, we didn’t chat about it in the week. What we did talk about was trying to complete the sweep of all the local teams over the season; that meant something to us,” he said.
“Well done to our coaching staff and Deon and his team. Deon and Kitsie are two world-class captains and in charge of a great group.
“Last year it took us until the 80th minute of the last league game when Ruhan Nel scored a try in Llanelli, so to win it with three games to go is a really special feeling.”
Dobson said it was always their ambition to repeat their 2021/22 title-winning campaign and being crowned South African Shield winners again was a big step towards achieving that goal.
“It was a big goal for us to maintain our status and back-up and also to build depth,” added Dobson. “Last year we were maybe a little shallow and we had a lot of guys with high game minutes. Now we have accomplished what we have with a broader pool.”
Although he is happy with how his team have fared so far, Dobson is aware of the challenges which lie in wait as the season approaches its business-end.
“We are pleased with ourselves now and we deserve to be happy, but I’m acutely aware that we could have a tough quarter-final draw and our Heineken Cup game against Harlequins won’t be easy, so the flavour of the season could change,” he said.
“But it won’t change the fundamental building block of being a bigger squad and backing up last year. In some ways we have performed better this year than we did last year.”
Stormers captain Deon Fourie praised the team’s coaching staff for building a winning culture and an inclusive environment in which the players can deliver excellent performances.
“Credit must go to the management and coaching staff, we have been one of the top teams in terms of getting guys through and getting them experience this season,” he said. “So we are building that depth and it just shows what talent there is at the moment.
Keen to repeat success
“We didn’t want to be a team that was just a flash in the pan with a once-off thing that we were lucky to win. That was our mindset, to show the people out there that we really are a good team and a good group.
“As soon as you create a sense of belonging where it is healthy and you are winning, it is easy for guys to flourish.”
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