Cape Town – The Stormers’ Springbok prop Steven Kitshoff is eager to make a statement against the Hurricanes in their Super Rugby opener at Newlands on Saturday.
Kitshoff is one of six World Cup-winning Springboks in the Stormers’ squad for their 2020 campaign and the burly loosehead is happy that pre-season is a thing of the past.
The 27-year-old addressed reporters at the Stormers’ High Performance Centre in Bellville on Monday where he said he was confident that the World Cup winners would boost the Cape franchise.
“You’ve definitely got more confidence,” Kitshoff said on returning to the franchise as a World Cup winner, before warning: “But rugby is a funny game, it can quickly bring you back down to earth. So, I’m just taking each day as it comes. You get your good and bad days but I feel my experience counts in my favour and I just want to improve every day.”
Kitshoff warned that the Stormers would be out to dominate the Hurricanes up front this weekend.
“We definitely have the pack that can put any team under pressure… when it comes to lineouts, mauling and scrummaging… I really think we have the personnel in our camp to make our mark, especially against the Hurricanes and for the remainder of Super Rugby. I think if you make them turn around and play backwards, then you take their big outside backs out of the game.”
The other Stormers forwards who were part of the Boks’ victorious World Cup campaign include captain and flank Siya Kolisi, flank Pieter-Steph du Toit, prop Frans Malherbe and hooker Bongi Mbonambi.
Kitshoff added that as World Cup winners they try to add as much value as possible.
“I try and help as much as I can. We still have a young team so I think all the experience and knowledge all the Boks got (at the World Cup) will make a big contribution to the team’s success.”
The Stormers struggled somewhat at scrum time in their Super Hero Sunday clash against the Sharks earlier this month but Kitshoff is confident that the issues have been sorted out.
“Yes, we did struggle a bit but we’ve talked about it and worked on it and I think we can only look ahead from here. You can never take the warm-up games’ results as stock-standard but I think the guys have worked really hard over the past two weeks to get the confidence and dominance back.”
And there’s no doubt that the Cape franchise would attempt to disrupt the Hurricanes at scrum time on Saturday.
“They have a big, strong pack. They’re not the most aggressive scrummagers I’ve seen but they do have a good platform from which they play and they try and get their loose forwards into the game as quick as possible. They have strong props so I think they can put up a dominant scrum performance. And on the other side, they also try to dominate in loose play with their flanks.”
The Stormers will be without injured locks Cobus Wiese and JD Schickerling in the second row this weekend but Kitshoff is confident that the collective effort at scrum time will prove enough of a threat for the Hurricanes.
“Chris van Zyl, David (Meihuizen), Salmaan (Moerat)… they’re all big strong forwards and they bring 110% at every scrum, so I have no doubts over their abilities at scrum time.”
Former Springbok hooker Hanyani Shimange is the Stormers scrum guru and Kitshoff lauded his impact.
“Shimmy brings something different to the party. He definitely has a background of playing in the front row, so he knows what he’s talking about.”
Regarding his relationship with new Stormers head coach John Dobson, Kitshoff added:
“I really enjoying working with him. He’s working really well with the players. He’s got a good knowledge of the game and treats the players like men.”
Dobson will name his team on Thursday, with Saturday’s match at Newlands scheduled for 15:05.