Momentum key for Du Plessis

PUBLISHED: June 4, 2024

Midfielder Dan du Plessis says that the DHL Stormers are determined to harness the winning momentum built up in their last four matches as they head into the Vodacom URC play-offs.

They face the Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium in the quarter-finals of the Vodacom URC, after the DHL Stormers finished the regular season in fifth place following a hard-fought win against the Emirates Lions at DHL Stadium.

The Capetonians travel to Scotland with four successive wins in the league, a tally that includes away wins against Dragons RFC and Connacht, and Du Plessis emphasises the importance of slipstreaming that momentum in the playoffs.

“This past weekend against the Emirates Lions was critical for us to get the victory, to take that confidence into the playoffs,” he said.

“We had a successful tour just before the Emirates Lions, winning two out of two where we’ve maybe struggled in the past not touring as well as we should.

“We took a lot of confidence and lessons from those games and it was important to come back home and solidify that against a very strong Emirates Lions team that had it all to play for.

“What we can take from the win, and has maybe been creeping into our game the last couple of weeks, is our discipline. Going into a quarter-final in Glasgow we cannot afford to be giving so many penalties away, and you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you do that in a playoff game.

“But it was also a big positive for us to show we can step up with 14 men; it was tough to adjust to losing Angelo [Davids] but the boys really put up their hands and showed we can fight.”

The DHL Stormers are taking the next step in their growth as a team under Director of Rugby John Dobson, as they face their first away playoff in the Vodacom URC in Glasgow, and Du Plessis is relishing the opportunity.

“There is a good vibe in the team at the moment that’s been helped by the fact that we come off a couple of victories the last few weeks,” he added. “Dobbo and the coaches have done a great job keeping the guys positive and energised towards the end of the season. The guys are looking really focused and determined.

“It was a step in the right direction on the last tour to prove to ourselves that we can do it away from home as well, and we’re looking forward to what is going to be a good quarter-final in Scotland.”

The DHL Stormers tasted defeat in their last two visits to Glasgow, but Du Plessis says that the team is fired up for what will be a good challenge.

“Glasgow have stepped it up a notch in attack since Franco [Smith] has taken over, they’ve played attractive rugby at times and also showed they’ve got what it takes to win big games,” he explained.

“I do think we’ve gone there previously and not put up our best performances. We’ve learnt a lot from our last two trips to Scotstoun Stadium and we’ll do everything in our power to change the outcome this week.”

Du Plessis’ all-round game in midfield has been a vital cog for the DHL Stormers on both sides of the ball this season, and the hard-running centre’s versatility an asset following injuries to key players.

“Gaza [Damian Willemse] was a big loss for the team, any team would miss a player of his quality. But the guys who have slotted in, whether it be at 12 or 13, have done a good job and showed their versatility,” he said.

“Between Sacha [Feinberg-Mngomezulu], Wandi [Simelane] and JL [Jean-Luc du Plessis] there is quite a lot of versatility in the backline, and that’s not mentioning the others.

“For myself, it has just been really important to be versatile, especially this season after losing Ruhan Nel early on, and now Damian.”