It has been some time since Frans Malherbe pulled on a DHL Stormers jersey and the experienced tighthead prop is ready to get stuck in against Leinster in Dublin on Friday.
Malherbe, who last featured for the DHL Stormers in December, was among the Springbok recently put through their paces during a three-week training camp held in Cape Town and Stellenbosch.
He is looking forward to getting some gametime under his belt this weekend and testing himself against the unbeaten Vodacom United Rugby Championship log-leaders.
“The Springbok camp was tough but it gave us a good base to start with after our break. But how’s that for your first game back? Playing the log leaders away,” Malherbe chuckled. “They are unbeaten this season and are a very, very good side.
“It’s awesome to be back, we had a nice week of prepping and I am very keen. Hopefully we can execute what we have been working on in training.”
For Malherbe, Friday night’s game will be important in that it will be a good test of the plans that the DHL Stormers have made to take on the Irish giants.
“I don’t think it’s about laying down a marker or looking ahead to the playoffs. I know it’s a cliche, but we can only focus on the now and this weekend’s game. We have to have very good plans against a top Leinster side and execute them as well as we can.
“If we meet them again later, then we can have clarity on whether those plans worked. We can bin those things that didn’t work and focus on stuff that got you rewards in this game. It’s leaning more towards the technical side of things, rather than laying down a marker before the knockout rounds.”
For Malherbe, it all starts up front, where he and his teammates will look to get themselves on the front foot.
“It is very important that we are solid at set piece,” Malherbe said. “That’s not only the scrum, our lineout also needs to function well. We also need to disrupt them on their ball.
“Territory and everything else flows from set piece as well, so there will be a big focus on that for this game.”
While the Springboks have been away, the depth at the DHL Stormers has shone through in an impressive run that saw the defending champions retain the South African Shield.
“There are a lot of very good, young talented players at DHL Western Province and the DHL Stormers,” Malherbe said.
“Some of them are not even that young. A lot of credit has to go to Brok Harris as well. He left Province as someone who mainly played at tighthead. Since he has been back, he has been evenly good on both sides of the scrum. He really did well.
“The young guys like Sazi Sandi, Kwenzo Blose, Neethling Fouche, they are really exciting – I think Neethling has so much to add to a team – and it’s really a privilege to work and play alongside those guys.”