Despite last week’s tie with the Ospreys, the Stormers remain undefeated in their United Rugby Championship title defense and are excited to utilize Frans Malherbe’s “energy” against Cardiff on Saturday (8.35pm kickoff).
The large Springbok tighthead prop will be one of the last Test players to be returned to action following the Rugby Championship, and he will be eager to get back on the field before the Boks’ end-of-year tour of Europe.
The Stormers have not had the best of luck in the scrums throughout the initial rounds of the URC. Having a scrummager of Malherbe’s caliber back in Wales could result in more front-foot ball for their dangerous backline.
“Frans is an experienced Springbok, and it’s always a pleasure to have him around. He will undoubtedly improve our scrum and maul; his mere presence in our camp… Many players thrive off of his energy, so we are thrilled to have him here,” stated the forwards coach, Rito Hlungwani.
Malherbe’s involvement, however, will not be limited to the scrums, as the Cape side also seeks to establish a stronger base from the lineouts in order to advance their maul.
In last week’s 16-16 draw in Swansea, the Ospreys were able to stop their drives at vital moments, so the Capetonians will be hoping that the fast 4G pitch will boost their attack.
“What they did effectively around the maul was attempt to disrupt it before we set it up or reached the ground. “Alun Wyn Jones was quite brilliant at it for Wales, and they were quite successful at it, while we were unable to establish a maul,” Hlungwani remarked.
“We’ve worked diligently to fix this, and Kitsie (Steven Kitshoff) told us how the Boks attempted to do the same. This week, we spent a couple of hours improving that.
“If you wish to begin mauling, the fight must begin in the air. Not usually can referees see everything. Timing is crucial when it comes to maul-stopping, therefore we do show them a few clips. Ospreys deserve credit because they did it in a way the referee did not see.
“We strive to improve every week. There were a few (lineout) faults in which we could have performed better. We believe our attack around the lineout is strong, and we maul really well, so this is an area where we want to continue to grow.