Scrumhalf Paul de Wet is excited about adapting to the radical change in conditions as the DHL Stormers switch from summer to winter in Glasgow on Sunday.
The unsung De Wet has proven himself to be a pillar of consistency for the Vodacom United Rugby Championship defending champs, while jockeying for the No.9 jersey in a three-way position battle with Godlen Masimla and Springbok halfback Herschel Jantjies.
Jantjies and Masimla have been ruled out of the team’s two-match trip to the United Kingdom, leaving De Wet, veteran Stefan Ungerer and uncapped Imad Khan to front the Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium this week, and London Irish at the Gtech Community Stadium in the Heineken Champions Cup on 15 January.
De Wet has made seven starts in 10 Vodacom URC matches leading up to the clash against the Warriors, and with the DHL Stormers coming off the high of two big derby wins in the competition over the Vodacom Bulls and Emirates Lions, the 26-year-old is eager to build on that momentum.
The Warriors, who lost 32-7 in the last meeting with the DHL Stormers at DHL Stadium in 2021/22, are also coming off back-to-back derby wins against Edinburgh to quietly climb into sixth on the standings, 15 points behind the second-placed DHL Stormers.
“We are taking each game as a unique opportunity and challenge for the group. South African derbies take a different energy and adrenaline but now we need to focus on the next game,” De Wet said.
“We treat all our opposition with the highest respect. Playing away from home against any team will take that extra effort. Conditions are different and we will need to adapt and play the situation.”
Glasgow rival Ali Price – a British & Irish Lion who has won 58 Test caps for Scotland – is a formidable opponent, yet De Wet is relishing the duel as another opportunity for the former Paarl Boys’ High prodigy to catch the eye of national selectors in a World Cup year.
“It is a great honour and privilege to play against the nines in the business, but I can only focus on my game and what is best for the team,” De Wet said.
“I suppose every player is dreaming of the highest honours achievable. I am grateful for every opportunity to get gametime, improve my game in all departments and contribute to the team’s performance.”
It was close to 30 degrees playing on grass in front of thousands of supporters at DHL Stadium over the festive period for the DHL Stormers, who are now expected to face a hostile crowd on a synthetic pitch in icy Glasgow.
De Wet, though, has embraced the challenge of cross-hemisphere conditions that comes with campaigning in Europe and the Republic simultaneously.
“As professionals we need to adapt to every situation. Crowds, climate and pitches are now realities of this Vodacom URC competition,” he added.
“We were exposed to it on the tours to France and Wales and we know it will take extra focus and motivation to weather the storm.”