Full steam ahead for Malherbe

PUBLISHED: April 4, 2024

DHL Stormers tighthead prop Frans Malherbe is delighted to be back in action and looking forward to the challenge that awaits in the Investec Champions Cup Round of 16 match at DHL Stadium.

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Malherbe has clocked up 70 minutes in two appearances since returning from a back injury that consigned him to the stands following the 2023 Rugby World Cup final.

The DHL Stormers centurion made his season debut as a starter in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship match against Edinburgh, completing the first half, before playing off the bench in the win against Ulster.

“I am very happy to be back,” Malherbe said. “Especially with the last two games, my first one against Edinburgh and last week against Ulster, it was awesome to get the results. I am just very happy to be back with the team.”

Packing down in the Ulster front row, Steven Kitshoff made his first appearance at DHL Stadium since leaving the DHL Stormers for Ireland. Kitshoff’s long-time scrum-partner, Malherbe said it was business as usual scrumming against his old mate.

“It was just one scrum against Kitsie. It honestly didn’t feel that weird, because we scrummed against each other in training quite a lot when he was at the Stormers and at the Springboks. But it was a little strange to play against him, because the last time we did that was when we were at school.”

Malherbe said that back-to-back home wins in the Vodacom URC have given the DHL Stormers a boost as attention turns to the Investec Champions Cup playoffs this weekend.

“Those wins will give us confidence going into this week. Also, if you look at the current situation on the URC log, the last two weeks have been important. It’s immense. There are only five between the Emirates Lions in 11th and us in fifth. So we are really happy with those two wins.”

The DHL Stormers will take on Stade Rochelais in the Investec Champions Cup Round of 16 at DHL Stadium on Saturday.

The French side won the Investec Champions Cup for the first time in 2022 and successfully defended their title in 2023. Former DHL Stormers players Dillyn Leyds and Raymond Rhule are part of a squad that is stacked with French internationals.

Malherbe said that nothing but a complete performance will see the DHL Stormers progress to the next round of playoffs.

“We are up against the back-to-back defending champions,” Malherbe said. “It’s going to be a big game against a very good team with brilliant players. It will take an all-round good performance from us.

“The forwards will definitely need to be switched on at the set-piece, but the calibre of this game means that if you want the right result, you need to put in a full performance and be firing on all cylinders. That will be the goal, to put in a properly competitive performance.”

The DHL Stormers beat the French outfit 21-20 at DHL Stadium in the pool stage and Malherbe hopes to see the Faithful out in their numbers on Saturday.

“We love playing in Cape Town, at DHL Stadium, in front of our people. They are really amazing. So it helps us a lot, playing at home. Hopefully on Saturday the crowds will be there again and we can make them proud.”