We need to be thinner at looseforward - Stormers coach

rugby05 June 2024 06:39
By:Gavin Rich
article image
John Dobson © Gallo Images

A homecoming to the Cape for Sikhumbuzo Notshe now that he has been released from the Hollywoodbets Sharks would have a nice feel to it, as it was out of Wynberg Boys High that the Springbok launched his rugby career.

However DHL Stormers coach John Dobson, who has walked a long road with the now 31-year-old No 8 and counts him as a personal friend, doesn’t believe there is place at the Stormers for another looseforward, even though a Notshe on top form would be a good fit for the gap left by Hacjivah Dayimani should Dayimani sign up to go to France.

Dobson said that he had been concerned during the course of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship season and the EPCR campaign that there were several quality looseforwards on his books that did not get the game time they should need and demand. And while it has been rumoured that both Nama Xaba and Junior Pokomela might be being sought by the Vodacom Bulls, Dobson feels he wouldn’t be able to offer Notshe the game time he needs to make it back to the international level he was at in his first season at the Sharks.

“The one thing about this season is that we’ve probably been a bit overstocked at looseforward. So some guys didn’t get the game time they wanted,” said Dobson before the Stormers flew out to Glasgow for Saturday night’s URC quarterfinal against the Glasgow Warriors at the Scotstoun.

“Willie (Engelbrecht) and Junior both dropped a lot of game time. We actually need to be a bit thinner there. So it is unlikely (that we will be able to find a place for Notshe).”


Dobson is right. Keke Morabe was outstanding at No 8 in the few games he played before being injured, and it shouldn’t be forgotten that the Stormers also have the highly promising Hendre Stassen on their books. Stassen, coming back from four years out of rugby after testing positive for a banned substance, was also impressive each time he pulled on the Stormers jersey before a knee injury ruled him out of the second half of the season.

Stassen, who has started training again this week, does of course also play in the second row, but Dobson believes he could be particularly potent in either of the two flank positions. The Stormers have yet to see Stassen at his best and the injury stymied his progress but he has had a big rap from the coaches on what he can bring in several positions.

Springbok Deon Fourie, one of the Stormers’ most valuable players when fit, is not playing at the moment because of a season ending injury but is likely to play for at least one more season. If there is a looseforward mould the Stormers might require, it is ball scavenging fetcher to replace Fourie once he does hang up his boots. Xaba fits that mould but is often injured, although if the Glenwood old boy is considering a move it would be because of lack of regular game time.

Marcel Theunissen is also arguably better at No 8 than he is at the other three positions he has played for the Stormers, where is also really useful, so even if Dayimani does depart, the Stormers have at least three players in Notshe’s position - Evan Roos, Morabe and Theunissen.


You get the feeling that Dobson would love to make a sentimental decision in Notshe’s favour, but he is being realistic when he says he can’t guarantee his former prodigy game time. At the same time though, he doesn’t appear to completely rule a Notshe move home out.

“We’ve had chats, but nothing formal about the Stormers. It is fluid. I was hoping his contract would be extended by the Sharks. I genuinely just want Notshe to be okay.”

Notshe has been unfortunate at the Sharks, with injuries preventing him from getting an extended run in recent times. When he was fit and had momentum and playing regularly in the Sharks team he was a potential challenger for a Springbok place and was in particularly dynamic form when he was playing for Sean Everitt just before Covid arrived.