Experienced DHL Stormers flank Deon Fourie is hoping that the team can feed off the energy of the home crowd at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday in the Champions Cup knock-out match against Harlequins.
As someone with over 100 caps for the Stormers and plenty of experience in the Champions Cup for French side Lyon, Fourie knows what to expect this weekend better than most.
He is looking forward to what should be a spectacle of top rugby: “Champions Cup games are always special. It is such a prestigious tournament. To have a game here in Cape Town in front of such a crowd is unbelievable.
“I wouldn’t have believed it if someone told me when I left that when I returned in 2023 we would play at home in a last-16 game in Cape Town in front of this crowd.
“The team will definitely feed off that on the occasion, we will enjoy it and hopefully the crowd can add an extra few points on the scoreboard, if it’s needed at the end.”
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Fourie said that the hard-fought draw with table-topping Leinster in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship last week has helped prepare the Stormers nicely for a high-intensity knock-out game.
“In terms of preparation for this game, I think it was great, especially for the Springboks coming back after their break. Giving them some game time and getting back into our structures, it was great. It was also Hacjivah’s second game since coming back from injury so he is also getting back into his groove. In that respect, I think it will help a lot for the game against Harlequins,” he said.
The similarities between Leinster and Harlequins mean that the Stormers and Fourie will once again have to be sharp on defence.
“It was good playing Leinster before Harlequins because Leinster also love to play with quick ball. We made good plans for Leinster and I think they worked well, so we will just take that into this weekend’s game,” he said.
“I will always search for that opportunity when it comes to stealing or slowing the ball down. Accuracy is key for me when I make those decisions.”
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Accuracy is definitely important, as Harlequins have in their ranks a sharpshooter in flyhalf Marcus Smith, who is not only a threat with the ball in hand, but also ranks among the Premiership’s most successful goal-kickers.
“Discipline is always important, especially with a player like Marcus on the field,” said Fourie.
“We had a bad patch in the Leinster game where we gave eight or nine penalties away in a row. We have to be more accurate or disciplined, otherwise Marcus will punish us with his kicks or his running ability. His attacking style is also top-notch.”
Harlequins will travel to Cape Town with a contingent of four South African players. Among those is club captain Stephan Lewies, Springbok centre Andre Esterhuizen and a familiar face in former Stormers tighthead prop Wilco Louw.
“That contingent of four at Harlequins will definitely add to their team,” said Fourie. “They know how we play in South Africa and they will definitely share their knowledge with their teammates. When you play against fellow South Africans, you tend to raise your game a bit.”