Stormers welcome back their Springboks for the top-of-the-table URC clash against Leinster

Stormers welcome back their Springboks for the top-of-the-table URC clash against Leinster

The Stormers will be without star midfielder Ruhan Nel for their URC clash against log-leaders Leinster in Dublin on Friday night, but they welcome back their Springboks.

Ruhan Nel. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Stormers coach John Dobson confirmed on Monday that Nel, who started in Western Province's 41-33 Currie Cup win over the Bulls in Pretoria last Friday, will miss this weekend's top-of-the-table clash as he awaits the birth of his first child.

With Nel absent, the Stormers could opt for Springbok Damian Willemse to partner Dan du Plessis in midfield.

Dobson could also play Willemse at fullback but the recent strong performances of Clayton Blommetjies may see the coach opt for the former option.

Young guns Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu and Suleiman Hartzenberg could also partner Du Plessis in midfield.

Meanwhile, Dobson said that the team's returning Springboks, including the likes of Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe and Willemse, had the option of staying in South Africa to use Sunday's Currie Cup clash against the Sharks in Durban as a way to get match-fit.

The Stormers' focus is already on next weekend's important home Champions Cup Round of 16 clash against English club Harlequins.

But Dobson said the players wanted to go to Ireland to tackle Leinster, who have won all 15 of their URC games this season.

"If we think romantically, we could try and beat Leinster. But the truth is, those guys (the Springboks) haven't played for almost two months," Dobson told reporters.

"So, it's more a game of us getting ready for Harlequins which is a great occasion. Whether we can go further in the European Cup, I don't know. But we will hopefully have 50 000 people at Cape Town Stadium for our first home European knockout match and it will be very special for us.

"We offered the Springboks the choice of going to Durban to rather use the Currie Cup to get ready, but they said they really want to get integrated and they want to go to Leinster, which is great.

"I do suspect we will be a bit rusty. We will run in the red this week, but hopefully it will get us ready for Harlequins and Munster.

"We do not have a home URC semi-final yet, we have to win two of our last three games. But if we can pick up one or two points against Leinster, it will certainly help us."

Dobson said he will be at Friday's game in Dublin, as well as Sunday's one in Durban.

He did, however, stress that skills coach Labeeb Levy would take charge of the Currie Cup team's preparations this week.

"Labeeb will stay with the Currie Cup team," Dobson explained.

"We will get to the [Sharks] game... we (the Stormers) play Friday night and the other game is Sunday, but Labeeb will run the programme with Shimmy (Hanyani Shimange) and Gareth Wright.

"We did a lot of the prep work already and it is not fair for us to fly in on the day of the (Currie Cup) game and take over from Labeeb, so he will run it, but we will all be at the game in Durban."

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