Clayton Blommetjies has stepped into the breach in the opening two Vodacom United Rugby Championship rounds, showcasing his playmaking skills at flyhalf for the DHL Stormers ahead of a tough four-week overseas tour.
The DHL Stormers arrived in Glasgow this week to begin an arduous Vodacom United Rugby Championship tour that includes skirmishes at Glasgow Warriors, Benetton, Munster and Cardiff on consecutive weekends over the next month.
With two bonus-point wins in South Africa under the belt – against the Emirates Lions away and Scarlets at home – the DHL Stormers top the overall standings after two rounds, but they will be confronted by a drastic change of conditions in the coming weeks.
“It was a tough one against the Emirates Lions and the win against the Scarlets was not as easy as it looked, we still had to work, to be honest,” Blommetjies said. “We are in a very good space, but we can’t fall into the trap of thinking this tour is going to be easy.
“We are going straight onto a 4G pitch this weekend. Then we go back to a normal field against Benetton, then we face Munster and then back on a 4G pitch in Cardiff.
“We need to focus on sticking to our gameplan, playing in our structures, and preparing well during the week. If we can pull off what we have been preparing during the week, then we will be fine,” he said.
Blommetjies played predominantly at fullback during his first season with the DHL Stormers, but injuries and the absence of a couple of Springboks have necessitated a move to the No. 10 jersey.
In the build up to the season-opener, centre Dan du Plessis suffered a long-term injury, his name added to a list of unavailables that included Jean-Luc du Plessis and Jurie Matthee (injured) while Springboks Manie Libbok and Damian Willemse only this week returned to South Africa from winning the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The temporary switch to flyhalf is one that 33-year-old Blommetjies has enjoyed, thriving as he scored 18 points in two games.
“I think for a backline player to have such pressure on you, as an individual, it’s great,” he explained. “That will only improve your game.
“For me to have that jersey with the amount of pressure that comes with it, I think it’s a good fit for me. To be honest, I love pressure because I am a rugby player. In every single game, there is pressure.”
Blommetjies explains that he has particularly enjoyed playing alongside Warrick Gelant, back in Cape Town after a season in France.
“It’s nice to be able to play with a guy like Warrick at the back, who can help me slot in at 10. He makes it easier for me and that’s why I’m enjoying it so much. He’s an experienced guy and he has slotted in like he never left.
“It’s awesome, because the two of us are communicating really well. Sometimes he will slot into the No. 10 channel, and I will take over his role. It’s easy to work with him and he’s such a nice guy off the field. It’s much easier for me to work in this backline, knowing I’ve got guys like him at the back.”