United Rugby Championship: Veteran Brok Harris loving his ‘player-coach’ role with the Stormers

Stormers star Brok Harris after a game. Credit: Alamy
Stormers star Brok Harris after a game. Credit: Alamy

Stormers veteran Brok Harris is relishing his role as unofficial player-coach at the club and is looking forward to the scrum battle against Glasgow Warriors this weekend.

Harris was initially brought into the Stormers set-up ahead of last season as a scrum consultant but ended up lacing up his boots and playing a role in the team’s title success.

This season the 37-year-old has had some game time, but when he is not on the field, he is in the coaching box with the Stormers‘ tacticians.

Part of the plan

The prop revealed he always planned to go into coaching, and that he is loving the opportunity to experience both sides of the coin at this stage of his career.

“That was always my intention… When I eventually finish playing, I will definitely try to go into the coaching side of it. That’s the plan, and it’s actually nice to have one foot in the coaching camp and one in the playing camp – I am really enjoying it at the moment,” Harris said.

He also adds tremendous experience to the Cape Town side, having played over 100 games for the Dragons in Wales, meaning he is accustomed to the artificial surface at Scotstoun Stadium.

However, Harris admits Glasgow do have the edge, but there are plans in place to combat the likes of former Stormer Oli Kebble at scrum time. The hosts’ line-out is also a point of focus for the Stormers as they look to start 2023 in style.

“If there isn’t an edge, then it isn’t rugby. With Oli there, I think they have a very good scrum. They do play regularly on the artificial surface, which is different to playing on normal grass. But we have put a few things in place to get that edge on them,” Harris said.

“The most important thing when playing on an artificial pitch is to win the speed of the engagement. That pitch doesn’t allow you to ‘recover’ as such like on a grass pitch, so the focus will definitely be on being quick on the mark in the scrums.

“In that one scrum, the Bulls were just better than us, and we will accept that. But we went back to what we do and our processes, and it was much better last weekend against the Lions.

“In terms of the line-outs, Glasgow is one of the top contesting sides in the competition, so we will definitely have to consider our options well. At least there won’t be any grass-burns, as it rains all the time here…”

Familiar Franco

Glasgow’s new coach Franco Smith is a familiar face to the Stormers, having previously coached with the Cheetahs, and Harris expects his attacking philosophy to suit the Cape Town men.

“Also, I think mentioning Franco (Smith)… He will like to give the ball a little bit of air, and that suits us. So, in terms of the field, really nice field – we can’t control the conditions, but at least it won’t be a muddy field,” he added.

“It’s always nice to see new places, and especially for some of the youngsters, it’s their first tour for the Stormers, and some of the guys haven’t been to Glasgow.

“But today, we just want to recover. The travel is never easy: three flights, and travelling more than two days.”

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