Composure key for Ungerer

PUBLISHED: December 19, 2023

Stefan Ungerer has stressed the importance of composure when the DHL Stormers battle the Vodacom Bulls in Cape Town on Saturday.

DHL Stadium hosts the DHL Stormers’ first local derby of the season, with the Vodacom Bulls travelling down to the Mother City for the seventh Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash between the SA Shield rivals.

The North-South derby is always tightly contested and experienced scrumhalf Ungerer appreciates the value of cool heads.

“We all know how much these local derbies mean to us, it’s always special being part of this week,” Ungerer said.

“It does bring another level of intensity but it’s important to keep the emotions under control and focus on the process.”

The third-placed Vodacom Bulls currently lead the way for the South African teams in the Vodacom URC, with the DHL Stormers seven points behind on the log.

Both teams have spades of talent, but Ungerer says the DHL Stormers won’t be drawn into individual matchups.

“We have to acknowledge that they have some dangerous players but also not focus too much on individuals,” Ungerer said.

“Managing field position and territory will be important this weekend, limiting their options and also looking to put our team in good positions across the pitch. It’s all about controlling the tempo of play and executing when we are in the right areas.”

The DHL Stormers go into Saturday’s clash with a spring in the step, after beating two-time Investec Champions Cup winners La Rochelle in Cape Town, following an excellent display of their depth in Leicester.

“I think the squad is in a good place at the moment,” Ungerer explained. “It wasn’t the perfect performance last week against the back-to-back Investec Champions Cup winners but to get the result out of that game meant a lot to us.

“Last week’s win was an important win in front of the DHL Stadium Faithful and we’re looking to put up another good performance this weekend.”

Ungerer’s previous appearance for the DHL Stormers came as a member of the team that showcased the squad’s depth, pushing a star-studded Leicester Tigers to the brink.

“We knew it was always going to be a tough outing against a full-strength Leicester side at Welford Road, especially with a lot of new combinations from our side,” Ungerer explained.

“We could see throughout the week that not many people were giving us a chance of getting a result away from home and it that also played a part in fuelling us to put together that underdog performance.”

Into his third season with the DHL Stormers, Ungerer is enjoying the competition in the squad for the No 9 jersey.

“We’ve obviously got some top players in the 9 jumper at the DHL Stormers and the competition for the starting jersey is good,” he said.

“Herschel and Paul are top quality scrumhalves with international standards, so it’s healthy competition and we are constantly training together and pushing each other in training.

“It brings out the best in us as individual players. Playing in Vodacom URC and Investec Champions Cup means that there will always be opportunities for game time and it’s about being ready for those chances and making sure we prepare each other as best we can, no matter who gets selected to do the job on the weekend.”