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Stormers coach says SA teams are disadvantaged by Europe's 4G pitches

By Rugby365
Warrirors' Kyle Steyn scores a try during a United Rugby Championship match between Glasgow Warriors and DHL Stormers at Scotstoun, on January 08, 2023, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Stormers forwards coach Rito Hlungwani is of the opinion that his side struggled on Europe’s 4G synthetic pitches in their 17-24 loss to the Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium in the United Rugby Championship last Sunday.

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The Stormers are in London as they prepare to face London Irish in the Champions Cup this weekend.

Hlungwani said the 4G fields pose another challenge for South African teams.

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“It is very difficult if you are not used to the 4G fields,” Hlungwani said.

“It is much faster and the overseas teams train on those fields every day. To us, it always feels like we are two seconds behind.

“We have to work on how we can adapt to playing on the 4G pitches.

“Everything on that surface is about momentum. It is much faster and we are not using the surface as an excuse for our loss last weekend, they were definitely much better on the day.

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“But I do feel the 4G field played a role.”

Hlungwani confirmed that there might be one or two changes to the side that will tackle London Irish this weekend, which could see Suleiman Hartzenberg, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Evan Roos or Ruan Nel make a return.

This as it was confirmed that Leolin Zas returned to South Africa following an injury he picked up on tour.

“Losing Zas was tough,” Hlungwani said, adding: “But we have good enough cover and it’s not the end of the world.

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“The guys coming back from injury have been training with us this week.

Maybe there can be rotation in a few positions. We are playing in two competitions and you can almost expect we will retain the bulk of the team. But in certain positions, there might be rotation with players like Sacha, Evan or Ruan coming in.

“We don’t like making more than seven changes and we are happy with the capacity of players we have with us.

“There was a big change in the way we could prepare this week compared to previous weeks. We definitely had more time to train,” the coach said.

Talking about what what went wrong in Glasgow last weekend, Hlungwani said their systems are very similar to that of the Cheetahs when Franco Smith coached them. “Yet, now he has more experienced players. They were very good at stopping the maul and they have a lot of x-factor players.

“Our ability to maul was a big disappointment last week. We had more mauling opportunities than others, but we were poor in that area of the game. It was all on us, we were not good enough. Teams know if they come into our 22, we will maul.”

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