Stormers’ Springbok hopeful not underestimating Lions ahead of crunch clash

David Skippers
United Rugby Championship Suleiman Hartzenberg Stormers training 2022 - PA.jpg

Stormers utility back Suleiman Hartzenberg.

Stormers utility back Suleiman Hartzenberg is keen to make Cape Town smile one more time before they are set to travel for their United Rugby Championship (URC) quarter-final clash.

John Dobson’s charges will take on the Lions in Cape Town on Saturday and are already assured of a play-off berth. However, they know that they cannot take their opponents lightly as they look to continue with their winning momentum ahead of the quarter-finals.

“As the log stands, we’ll most certainly have an away playoff game and for us, it was of utmost importance that we got those two wins on tour for continuity away from home,” Hartzenberg told the Stormers’ official website of victories against Dragons RFC and Connacht.

Expects it ‘to be tough going forward’

“It’s still going to be tough going forward but just to have the belief that we are able to produce overseas, and it’s not a curse, was important.”

The Lions are currently in ninth position in the URC standings and still chasing a quarter-final spot and will be highly motivated to get the better of the Stormers, who are in fifth position and set to play their first ever away knockout match in the competition, after being crowned champions in the inaugural tournament in 2022 and finishing as runners-up to Munster in 2023.

“Everyone’s going out swinging and giving their best, especially the Emirates Lions, being in the position that they’re in,” Hartzenberg said.

“They’ll definitely come to give us a run for our money.

“It’s also an important match for us, seeing as it’s our last home game for the regular season, and we would like to carry the momentum into the play-offs as well as give the people of Cape Town one last smile before we head off.

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“It’s quite an early kick off but we want to leave DHL Stadium on a high and continue to build on our performances this season.”

There is a great rivalry amongst the Stormers’ outside backs and the competition for spots in their matchday squad is fierce, but Hartzenberg feels there is great camaraderie in the camp as they pursue a common goal.

“We definitely try to help each other the best way we can. There’s always been a close bond and we’re very supportive of one another,” added the 21-year-old.

“But we’re also there to perform for the team and our job is to make it as hard as possible for the coaches to choose!

“Whether it’s me, Leolin [Zas], Ben [Loader], Courtnall [Skosan], Angelo [Davids] or Wandi [Simelane] on the field, we’ll try in the week at training to give whoever is playing the best possible picture to be prepared for Saturday.”

Hartzenberg has been in fine form for the Stormers and scored five tries in all competitions this season while showcasing his pace and aerial ability.

On the Springboks’ radar

After delivering several standout performances, he attended his second Springbok workshop last week.

“Going in I was very nervous, not knowing what to expect, but I found it very informative and straight to the point,” said Hartzenberg.

“I came away looking at my game and going, ‘I can do that better’, and it helped open my eyes in ways I never thought it could. It was amazing and I was grateful to experience it.”

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