United Rugby Championship: Stormers’ Junior Pokomela ready to face former coach against Glasgow Warriors

Stormers star Junior Pokomela looks on. Credit: Alamy
Stormers star Junior Pokomela looks on. Credit: Alamy

Stormers loose forward Junior Pokomela is looking forward to lining up against a former teammate and coach as the Cape Town men gear up to face Glasgow Warriors this weekend.

Pokomela played under Glasgow coach Franco Smith during their time with the Cheetahs and turned out alongside second-row Sintu Majezi in Bloemfontein.

The Stormer has settled nicely in Cape Town and is one of the key players adding depth to the club’s back-row as they fight for wins in both the United Rugby Championship and Champions Cup.

Old teammate

Pokomela recalls his time playing with Majezi, who has impressed in the early stages of his time in Scotland.

“Sintu is a mate of mine, he’s a massive player,” said Pokomela. “I played at the Cheetahs with him, and against him when he was at the Bulls.

“We played good rugby together at the Cheetahs, and I’m happy for him doing well at Glasgow, playing week in and week out. Looking forward to facing him this coming weekend, and meeting up with him afterwards – excited, actually.”

Glasgow have now settled under Smith and started to find good form, beating Edinburgh back-to-back in their last two games to claim the 1872 Cup.

Pokomela only had good to say of Smith, who he rates highly as a coach. However, he gave an interesting insight into how the coach loves to attack.

“I’ve got nothing but massive respect for Franco, when he coached me at the Cheetahs, I played some of my best rugby under him,” he said.

“He has turned Glasgow around, and they’re playing brilliant rugby. I watched their two games against Edinburgh, and they played so well.

“They’re a free-flowing team, but I can imagine with the weather conditions [in the northern hemisphere] he sometimes can’t play the way he would like to play because Franco is a coach who likes to attack and play quick ball.

“So we’ll prepare well and do our homework and make sure we’re ready for them.”

Back-row depth

The Stormers’ back-row has great depth, with veteran Deon Fourie leading the charge over the ball alongside the red-hot Hacjivah Dayimani and Willie Englebrecht with Evan Roos still sidelined.

“The Stormers competition from one to 15 is crazy, especially in the loose forwards,” added Pokomela.

“You’ve got Brannas [Fourie], Hacjivah, Evan [Roos], Willie [Engelbrecht], Marcel [Theunissen]… the depth is just unbelievable.

“So the competition is healthy, and you have to be on your toes and keep pushing at the door. I’m happy I get to play each week and contribute to the team where I can. I’m blessed.

“A guy like Brannas, 36 years old and still playing his best rugby, I feed off of him and get to learn every day from these guys.”

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