Springbok lock Salmaan Moerat has taken over the DHL Stormers captaincy position that had been left vacant following Steven Kitshoff’s departure for the Irish provincial team, Ulster.
Moerat would have been in the frame for a place in the Bok squad for the Rugby World Cup but had his hopes dashed when he underwent an operation for a serious ligament injury last December and was ruled out of rugby for the rest of the 2022/2023 season.
Moerat was a frustrated man watching the Stormers from the stands as they made a second successive Vodacom United Rugby Championship final and may have some of his disappointment at missing both the World Cup and the bulk of last season with his appointment as the regular Stormers captain for 2023/2024.
©️ Your new DHL Stormers captain. The Salmaan Moerat era has begun.
🗣️ 'I know how much this team means to the people who support us and I'll be doing everything I can to continue making them proud'
📢 Full announcement https://t.co/qrv9k77SwM#iamastormer #dhldelivers pic.twitter.com/cpCohfEAmz — DHL Stormers (@THESTORMERS) August 24, 2023
He has big shoes to fill as Kitshoff was a successful Stormers captain, arguably the most decorated ever if you consider he led his team to a major international trophy, something the Stormers didn’t manage to do during the Super Rugby era.
However, Moerat is no stranger to the role, having captained the side in previous campaigns, with injury preventing a more extended run with the leadership armband on occasion.
Moerat was in fact the first man to the lead the Stormers in the URC when he led them in their debut game against Benetton in Treviso in 2021 and he was also in charge when they comprehensively beat the Dragons in Gqeberha last year, just a few weeks before his injury.
A product of a renowned Western Cape rugby family, Moerat led Western Province age level before going on to lead both the South African Schools and Junior Springbok teams.
He made his Bok debut against Wales last July and was part of the Bok plans before the injury that ruled out his World Cup challenge.
The injury hit during a Heineken Champions Cup pool match against London Irish at Cape Town Stadium in mid-December.
Stormers coach John Dobson has never made any secret of his massive regard for Moerat, who is 25, both as a leader and a human being so the appointment was anticipated once it was clear that Kitshoff was on his way to Ireland.
"Salmaan is a fantastic player, a proven leader and most importantly a top human being who embodies what we want our team to be about," said Dobson in making the announcement.
"He and his family are part of the proud rugby heritage of the region and I know the team will be in safe hands on the pitch with him at the helm."
Moerat said assuming the captaincy of the Stormers was a huge honour for him and not something he would ever take for granted.
"I know how much this team means to the people who support us and I will do everything I can to continue making them proud of us," said the lock, who made his WP senior debut in 2018 at the age of just 21 and just two years after he and fellow Stormers Bok Damian Willemse had starred for WP Schools at the 2016 Craven Week at Kearsney College.