Loader licking his lips for action replay

PUBLISHED: April 2, 2024

Ben Loader scored a spectacular try in the DHL Stormers’ pool match against Stade Rochelais and can’t wait to take the defending champions on again in the Investec Champions Cup Round of 16 match at DHL Stadium on Saturday.

Loader dotted down in the corner after latching on to a pinpoint Damian Willemse cross-field kick, and the Englishman is champing at the bit for another chance to get the supporters on their feet.

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“Damian found me with a great kick and I just had to make the run to the line. It was so amazing to score in front of the fans for the first time at DHL Stadium,” he said.

“Unfortunately I injured my shoulder in the act of scoring and it was a bittersweet moment for me, but I’m hoping to replicate some of that success this coming weekend.

“To have the supporters cheering us on for what will be a massive game, we’ll need all the support we can get.”

Loader is relishing every opportunity to thrill the fans at DHL Stadium as part of an exciting DHL Stormers backline.

The gas-man featured off the bench in a dramatic win against Ulster on Saturday in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, as the DHL Stormers cemented their position in the top eight with five rounds remaining in the league phase of the competition.

He praised the DHL Stormers’ fighting spirit to clinch victory as their 2023/24 campaign enters the business-end of the Vodacom URC.

“Saturday was a great win, obviously not the prettiest but at this stage of the season you’ve got to take them wherever they come,” Loader explained.

“This squad of players has this belief that we’re going to create opportunities, and they might come in the first minute or in the 80th minute but we know we’re a team who can create from anywhere.

“It’s something the coaches have instilled in us but we, as players, have that confidence and back each other that if we don’t stop fighting then we’ll definitely get that chance to find a way to win.”

Loader’s explosive running and proficiency on the wing has added a fresh dimension to the DHL Stormers, linking up seamlessly with Willemse, Warrick Gelant, Suleiman Hartzenberg and Leolin Zas in a dynamic and interchangeable back three.

“The back three is a really tight unit and I enjoy playing with everyone,” he said. “We’ve seen a lot of combinations this season, sometimes due to injury, but we’ve now got most of the guys ready.

“Whoever plays is able to do the business, like Suleiman scoring a hat-trick two weeks ago against Edinburgh, Zas scoring twice… the guys are really on form.”

Joining the DHL Stormers this season with almost 100 caps playing for London Irish, the 25-year-old is aware of the challenge posed by Stade Rochelais, yet is braced for the occasion.

“The Ulster game was like a Test match but this week is going to be even tougher. Stade Rochelais are double champions and will come with all the firepower that they’ve got.

“We know they’ll be gunning for us but we came out on top in the pool stages, and we’ll have our plans to cancel them out. And we’re at home at DHL Stadium and that definitely counts for something.”