Brok loving festive feast at DHL Stadium

PUBLISHED: December 28, 2023

DHL Stormers veteran Brok Harris is loving the action-packed festive calendar with big games at DHL Stadium every weekend.

The DHL Stormers have made the most of a busy December, launching the month with a victory against Zebre after the welcome return of a contingent of players who helped the Springboks win the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Attention then shifted from the Vodacom URC to the Investec Champions Cup, where a DHL Stormers side featuring a mix of youth and experience pushed a star-studded Leicester Tigers to the brink at Welford Road.

Having left a strong group of players in Cape Town to prepare for the clash against the defending champions, the DHL Stormers stunned La Rochelle with a last-minute converted try in front of the Faithful.

This was followed by a Vodacom URC derby victory against the Vodacom Bulls in Cape Town.

“December is turning out to be a good one,” Harris said. “After sending a youngish team to Leicester Tigers, and playing as well as we did, I think we were unlucky to not get the result. That set the tone for the game against La Rochelle.

“Playing the champions of Europe we knew we needed to step up our game, and so we did. This in turn gave us our momentum for the Vodacom Bulls, and the Hollywoodbets Sharks to come.”

Having enjoyed a seven-year stint with Welsh side Dragons, Harris is used to playing rugby in December, but admits it is something the South African teams are still adjusting to.

“It’s is not something that our South African teams are used to yet, it’s not always easy to say no to the extra helping of malva pudding, but this is where the game is won, off the field,” Harris said.

“I think this is still a major mind shift that most of the players need to make. It is difficult to work while everyone is on holiday, but despite this our spirits are high and we have our Faithful supporting us.”

Harris played his 400th senior professional match when he captained the DHL Stormers in Cardiff.

The 38-year-old, who made his debut for the DHL Stormers in 2007, is enjoying an on-field mentorship role with the next generation of players.

“As much as I am a mentor for a few of the youngsters, I still learn a lot from their take on the game, and I feed off their energy. They definitely keep me young and are partly responsible for my grey hair.

“Nearing the end of my career, it is a privilege to be part of the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province set up and I am savouring each moment on and off the field. I will never get tired of wearing the DHL Stormers jersey.”

Despite bidding farewell to a legend in Steven Kitshoff last season, the DHL Stormers have continued to impress at the set-piece, with the returning Sti Sithole dovetailing with experienced recruit Lizo Gqoboka at loosehead prop.

Harris also noted the impressive progress made by young props Kwenzo Blose and Lee-Marvin Mazibuko this season, as the DHL Stormers brace for a stern test against the HollywoodBets Sharks in Cape Town on Saturday.

“Sti and Lizo contribute both on and off the field through their input and their experience, and really bought into our systems and processes,” Harris said. “The growth that Kwenzo and Lee have shown in the last couple of months is promising, and it adds depth to the front row.

“Credit must go to our coaching staff willing to give youngsters the opportunity to play at the highest level these last two seasons. We have a few injuries at the moment, but thankfully have the depth in the squad to deal with it.

“We need this depth to remain competitive in both Vodacom URC and Investec Champions Cup,” Harris added. “As for this weekend, I feel that we’ve put in a lot of hard work as a pack, and the game against the Hollywoodbets Sharks will be another test of our strength.”

The DHL Stormers will bring the curtain down on 2023 with a coastal derby against the HollywoodBets Sharks at DHL Stadium.
While there’s a 15-point margin separating the two teams on the Vodacom URC log, Harris is wary of what a Springbok-packed Hollywoodbets Sharks squad can produce.

“The Hollywoodbets Sharks are a strong side with a lot of experience in key positions,” Harris said.

“Despite them not having the best start this season, we are still expecting a tough and physical match, and we know that they will be well prepared given their two weeks of preparation that they had.”