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'Let's return to reality - Ireland must exercise caution'

Irish expectation soars as Andy Farrell's team sweeps all in its path, but cool heads are needed if they are to heed mistakes of the past

'Some people will say it is excuses... but I've never experienced that before'

By Rugby365
Herschel Jantjies of DHL Stormers after his side's defeat in the United Rugby Championship match between Ulster and DHL Stormers at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Stormers head coach John Dobson admitted that he never experienced so much bad luck with injuries before and during a game as he did in Belfast over the weekend.


The Capetonians were completely outplayed on their way to a 5-35 defeat at Ravenhill Stadium and disruptions to team selections played a big role in the result.

Loose forward Junior Pokomela (concussion) and fullback Clayton Blommetjies (groin) were late withdrawals from the starting XV.

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The Capetonians then lost hooker JJ Kotze in the fourth minute after a head clash and it got worse midway in the first half when No.8 Evan Roos (knee) and flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis (concussion) left the field.

It meant Kade Wolhuter, who came in for Blommetjies, had to move from fullback to flyhalf in the match, while lock Ruben van Heerden had an early introduction when he came on for Roos.

Veteran centre Juan de Jongh also came in to fill a spot in the midfield in the first half.

“Some people will say it is excuses,” Dobson told reporters after the game.


“Basically, your spine is gone within 15 minutes of the game. I’ve never experienced that as a coach.

“That’s why I think we showed some fight.

“We did make mistakes, but I’ve never experienced that bad luck before.”



Dobson admitted that the disruptions affected his team’s game plan.

“I don’t know what it looked like on tv, but it was almost like we were playing with one-off runners. We didn’t have any depth to our attack,” the coach explained.

“It’s not his fault and Kade [Wolhuter] is a flyhalf at No.15.

“We just didn’t have any depth or variety on attack. If Manie [Libbok] and Dan Du Plessis had been at No.10 and No.12 it would have probably been a slightly different picture.

“We made some defensive errors as well. They caught us a little bit with the moves from the line-out. Our backfield was poor when they kicked into space, but they were very good on defence.

“It just felt that we never had the options we normally have.”

Despite the result, Dobson was pleased to test his depth in key positions.

“I thought [prop] Sazi Sandi brought a lot of energy, I think Brok [Harris] is playing good rugby. [Hooker] Andre-Hugo Venter also brought energy and we can see the quality of Ruben van Heerden.


“And probably the guy who gave me the most excitement was Marcel Theunissen at No.6 – he hasn’t played much rugby.

“Not so much [positives] in the backs I must say. It was too disruptive.

“There were some nice young forwards and by the end, you wouldn’t say it’s a traditional Stormers pack, but they were knocking on Ulster’s door a few times. That is probably the one positive.


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