The Citizen (KZN)

Simelane makes a big statement


- Ross Roche

Former Lions and Bulls utility back Wandisile Simelane put in a statement performanc­e over the weekend as he helped the Stormers power to an impressive 43-21 win over Edinburgh in Cape Town on Saturday.

It was arguably Simelane’s best performanc­e since leaving the Lions in 2022, where he made a number of sparkling performanc­es before falling out of favour, then moving to the Bulls where he was unable to secure a regular starting berth.

A season-ending knee injury to Ruhan Nel in December then saw the Stormers opt to bring Simelane in to bolster their back line, while there were hopes his move would re-ignite his career, as it did for his good friend Hacjivah Dayimani when he made the move from the Highveld to the coast.

Simelane made his debut for the Stormers off the bench against the Sharks in Durban last month, while this past weekend was his first start, playing in his preferred outside centre role.

Coach John Dobson admitted his showing had given him plenty to think about.

“If I was to replay the game (against the Bulls) at Loftus – we thought hard about playing him there, on that field against his old team – and Dan (du Plessis) is not really a 13, maybe I made a mistake. He was very good today [Saturday],” said Dobson after the match.

“Wandi is going to be special. Like Joseph Dweba’s lineout throwing, don’t worry about Wandisile’s defence. He understand­s our system completely.”

With Ulster next up for the Stormers this coming weekend Dobson now has a bit of a selection headache, as fullback Warrick Gelant is expected to return from injury, while wing Ben Loader is back to full fitness and ready for a start.

Suleiman Hartzenber­g, who scored a hat-trick on the right wing against Edinburgh, has played regularly at outside centre, while Man-of-the-Match Damian Willemse could also shift into the midfield if Gelant slots back in at fullback.

“You almost want two of them to get injured, so you don’t go through that,” said Dobson jokingly. “It’s very tricky. Wandi was great and you have to keep Suleiman. We are thrilled with Ben Loader and Warrick is coming back. It’s tomorrow’s problem.”

 ?? ?? WANDISILE SIMELANE Picture: Gallo Images
WANDISILE SIMELANE Picture: Gallo Images

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