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Engelbrecht ready to knuckle down

PUBLISHED: May 14, 2024


Loose forward Willie Engelbrecht is relishing every opportunity at the business-end of the season to knuckle down and give his best for the DHL Stormers.

Engelbrecht featured strongly as the DHL Stormers claimed a crucial bonus-point win against Dragons RFC in Newport on Friday to kick off their two-match tour in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.

The back-row bruiser was part of the DHL Stormers team that contested a back-to-back Vodacom URC Grand Final at DHL Stadium last season, and is champing at the bit for another crack at play-offs action.

“We were very physical in the Dragons RFC game and that is very positive; we didn’t have a lot of possession in the first half but we defended very well,” Engelbrecht said.

“For myself, it was great to be back on the field and playing again. I felt good physically and mentally, now just waiting for the next opportunity to come up!”

Engelbrecht has made 12 appearances in all competitions this season, and the 31-year-old believes the competition for places in the back row at the DHL Stormers has helped fuel his drive and determination.

“Good competition has always brought the best out of me, and all my years I’ve been playing when things get tough there is something that lights the fire inside of me,” he said.

The five log points banked last week saw the DHL Stormers remain in fifth position on the standings, with 10 teams still in the running for the top eight play-offs places with two rounds remaining in the regular season.

Engelbrecht believes the team showed plenty of grit and panache in Wales, but recognises they face another big challenge against Connacht at the Dexcom Stadium on Saturday.

“A very good win this past weekend but the work is not done yet, we have a difficult game coming up against Connacht,” he explained.

“We need to win both our next games to be safe on the log and you never know what could happen, maybe we sneak a home quarterfinal in!”

The fleet-footed Angelo Davids and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu scored a brace of tries apiece while Evan Roos powered over from close range on Friday. Clear skies are predicted for this week’s clash in Galway, and Engelbrecht is confident that the DHL Stormers have the gameplan to nullify Connacht.

“⁠It doesn’t matter what the weather is like this weekend, if we stick to our structures and play our brand of rugby we can beat any team in any weather,” he said.

“On these 4G pitches, though, you just always need to be on top of the other team, because in attack or defence if you are on the back foot, it’s hard to catch up.

“We know the European teams are tough to beat at home and I can make the same case for South African teams. But I know we are well prepared and ready for Saturday’s game.”