Stormers and Springbok great lauds ‘world-class’ Steven Kitshoff ahead of crunch final

Dylan Coetzee
United Rugby Championship: Stormers captain Steven Kitshoff during a game

Former Stormers and Springboks captain Jean de Villiers hailed Steven Kitshoff’s leadership and influence in the team’s success over the last two seasons.

De Villiers was at the peak of his powers in a star-studded Stormers team back in 2011 when Kitshoff joined the side as a quiet teenager.

Quiet teenager

The great centre recalls the Stormers needing permission from the front-row’s parents just to be able to play in Super Rugby, an early indicator of his immense talent.

During 2012, Kitshoff became a more integral star in the Stormer set-up but was still quiet according to De Villiers but constantly delivered on the field.

“I was fortunate to be there when Steven started playing for the Stormers,” said De Villiers. “He was this 18-year-old and he had to get permission from his parents to play Super Rugby at such a young age, with him scrumming and from a safety point of view.

“In those first couple of seasons, Kitsie probably spoke five words a week in the team environment and that was usually post-game after he had a couple of beers. He was just so quiet, didn’t say much, but he always had a big smile and always produced on the field. He was a youngster and extremely shy.”

Grown into a modern day superstar

Much has happened in the life of Kitshoff since the early days of his career including a short stint in France from 2015 to 2017 before returning to the Stormers which would set him up for World Cup glory with the Springboks in 2019.

He would follow that up with a series win against the British & Irish Lions in 2021 before inspiring his beloved Stormers to United Rugby Championship glory last season and leading the side to another final against Munster this weekend in Cape Town.

Kitshoff is now a respected figure in the global game and the most-capped Stormer in history. De Villiers believes he is still a quiet figure but one who has the ability to inspire the players around him.

“He is still a man of not too many words, but he has developed into a world-class player and a leader that leads from the front. He has the ability to get the team to play towards a common goal and push in the same direction,” he said.

“He has been fantastic for the Stormers and Springboks and his leadership has grown significantly over the last five years. The results that the Stormers have had over the last two years especially speaks volumes of that.”

It is all set for a fascinating battle in Cape Town this weekend with Munster and in the region of 5,000 of their fans travelling to South Africa for a sold-out final at the DHL Stadium.

READ MORE: United Rugby Championship: John Dobson says departing Stormers captain Steven Kitshoff is ‘irreplaceable’