Stassen inspired by DHL Stormers spirit

PUBLISHED: February 21, 2024

Hendre Stassen says that he has been inspired by the passion shown by his teammates at the DHL Stormers this season.

Stassen recently returned to the game after a lengthy ban and has made an impression with every opportunity he has got to wear the DHL Stormers jersey so far.

A prodigious talent as a Junior Springbok in 2017, the lock came through the ranks with the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria before moving to Paris to join Stade Français, then coached by former Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

However, his career was halted when he was handed a four-year ban after testing positive for a banned substance in 2019.

Having completed his ban in 2023, Stassen joined the DHL Stormers, looking to redeem his reputation as one of South Africa’s most promising forwards.

It has taken just four games for Stassen to show what he is about, scoring his first try for the DHL Stormers and securing a massive turnover penalty at the death against former club Stade Français in an Investec Champions Cup clash in Paris.

“When I picked up the ball, I knew it wouldn’t be good if I didn’t score that try,” Stassen told Die Burger newspaper.

“I used that and took a deep breath in the moment. It was my first try in four years. It was special to do it again and get that feeling.”

Having now spent the past few months with the DHL Stormers, Stassen is enjoying being part of the squad, with its unique collection of characters from all walks of life.

The DHL Stormers have had to fight for derby wins in the Vodacom URC and to escape the ‘Pool of Death’ and secure a home playoff in the Investec Champions Cup.

This fighting spirit has inspired Stassen to continue pushing himself to a new standard in his rugby comeback story.

“I haven’t seen players fighting for their team and club like this for a long time,” Stassen said. “In those last five minutes against Stade Français, you could see fire in the lads’ eyes. That Brok Harris can still be so motivated in the last five minutes after hundreds of games is amazing.

“Such dedication deserves great respect, something you cannot buy. That’s what makes the DHL Stormers special.”

Able to play in the second and back row, Stassen wants to continue developing his game as an all-rounder.

He takes inspiration from former DHL Stormers flank Pieter-Steph du Toit, who successfully transformed into one of the world’s best loose forwards after beginning his professional career as a lock.

“I want to get to a point where I can play with number four, five, six or seven on my back,” Stassen said. “At four lock you have to have the Bakkies Botha effect. If you’re picked at five lock, you need to be a linebacker like Franco Mostert. At openside flank you must have the Schalk Burger effect and at blindside flank the Willem Alberts effect.

“Pieter-Steph managed to become that kind of player. He will win turnovers in the final minute of a game, get over the advantage line with a strong run and make 25 tackles in a game. That’s what I’m aiming for – to improve my work performance in every facet,” he added.