DHL Stormers tighthead prop Neethling Fouche expects sparks to fly in a Vodacom United Rugby Championship ‘cracker’ against a ‘fully loaded’ Munster team at DHL Stadium on Saturday.
The DHL Stormers are currently in second place on the overall standings and host a fifth-placed Munster team who are looking to break into the top four and secure a home quarterfinal.
Fouche said that with both teams firmly in the play-off mix, he and his teammates are expecting a fired-up Munster team to run out the tunnel at 18h15 on Saturday at DHL Stadium.
“It’s back to the Vodacom URC this weekend. We are looking forward to a cracker against Munster. They are also hunting a top-four place for that home quarter-final. They are bringing a loaded squad with their best players so it’s going to be a cracker,” he said.
Having lost out in their Heineken Champions Cup quarterfinal in Exeter last week, the focus now shifts back to the Vodacom United Rugby Championship for the defending champions and Fouche says that the DHL Stormers are determined to get back to winning ways at home.
“We have to shake off what happened against Exeter quite quickly, almost be like goldfish and forget it, while also taking our learnings from the match. We can’t dwell on it for too long. We are a much better side than the one that played on the weekend, we didn’t put our best foot forward but we know that and we will definitely be up for it in the next game.
“We are looking forward to being back in front of our faithful and getting back into the Vodacom URC,” added Fouche. “We are sitting in second, but we still have work to do to finalise that spot. We will have to be up for it this weekend. Munster have had a week off, but I am looking forward to it. Hopefully we can play that brand of rugby that we are capable of.”
A lengthy season that started all the way back in September has allowed for more starting opportunities for Fouche.
The 30-year-old tighthead has once again proved more than a capable stand-in for Frans Malherbe, impressing in the 14 starts he has made in all competitions this season, compared to the seven starts he got last season.
“It’s crazy to think that the season started in September last year and we are still going strong,” Fouche remarked. “It has been an adjustment playing over the festive period, where we would normally be resting our feet. Joining the Vodacom URC has been so lekker for us as players. Travelling has its challenges but we stay in the same time zones. Having the Heineken Champions Cup adds that bit of juice for us as players.
“I’ve really enjoyed playing my role in this team. Frans has been away for long parts of the season so I have had to step up and make sure that I am at my best. I’ve enjoyed it. With my position, you can never stop learning,” he added.