Following a memorable 2022, DHL Stormers rookie Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu is back after a short injury and looking forward to what he expects to be a cracking Heineken Champions Cup match against London Irish on Sunday.
Feinberg-Mngomezulu is back in the DHL Stormers squad that embarked on a two-match tour of the United Kingdom.
A short period off the field due to injury has allowed the 20-year-old to reflect on his rise in 2022, when he captained the Junior Springboks, made his Vodacom United Rugby Championship debut for the DHL Stormers and toured Europe with the senior national team.
“2022 was indeed a special year and there was so much I took away from the year,” he said.
“It taught me things that I will take through for the rest of the life. I have to say the biggest learning, for me, was in the build up to the quarterfinal and then match day. ‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity’ is what I took out of that period of time.
“Learning to listen before speaking and learning to prepare before doing was something I have clinged onto ever since. I learned that preparation and willingness to learn is what really sees you through your big moments and helps you to take opportunities with both hands, if or when they do arrive.”
Although his first tour with the national team ended with him limping off the field during his first game for the South Africa ‘A’ side, Feinberg-Mngomezulu was able to gain plenty of knowledge, which he is looking forward to applying on his DHL Stormers return.
“The upside of that tour was that I definitely left a better person and a better rugby player,” he said.
“I was so grateful to just ‘be in the room’, to hear the conversations and to see the high level of professionalism within that group of players. I learned so much and I’m just grateful the injury came later in the tour rather than earlier because what I experienced and learned in the first half was priceless.”
Since making his DHL Stormers debut, Feinberg-Mngomezulu has been compared in playing style and versatility to teammate Damian Willemse and the two are working closely on the training ground.
“I’ve learned tremendous amounts from Gaza, in terms of versatility, consistency and being able to adapt,” said Feinberg-Mngomezulu. “He’s hungry on defence, he consistently beats the first tackler and his energy is unmatched – regardless of what position he plays. I’ve taken massive learnings from that – in terms of consistency anywhere and at anytime on the field.
Feinberg-Mngomezulu is in line to make his Heineken Champions Cup bow as the DHL Stormers travel to London to take on London Irish.
“I think as a professional in any environment it’s tough to come back from injury and start challenging guys again,” he said. “Whether you like it or not, the rust does pick up and the match intensity fitness you’ve worked towards does take a bit of a dip.
“But that’s what’s so beautiful about the process, because it’s a proper dog fight that starts from within and there’s nothing better than coming back and pushing guys you love working with.”
The DHL Stormers claimed a 34-14 win over the Premiership outfit in round two in Cape Town in December, but Feinberg-Mngomezulu expects a tougher task in London.
“London Irish are a quality outfit and playing any side away from home always presents a different challenge,” he added.
“It’s a challenge that we are more than capable of taking by the neck and I expect nothing less from the boys that run out on the weekend. We’re still learning and adapting to northern hemisphere conditions and I only see the performances going upwards from here on out.
“It’s going to be a cracker!”