Champions Cup Stormers

Stormers flyhalf Manie Libbok celebrates. Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images.

Senatla fires warning at Stormers’ European opposition

Seabelo Senatla cautions Stormers’ Champions Cup opponents to expect South African flare in their maiden season in the elite competition.

Champions Cup Stormers

Stormers flyhalf Manie Libbok celebrates. Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images.

Seabelo Senatla has cautioned the Stormers’ Champions Cup opponents to expect some South African flare from them in their maiden season in the elite European competition.

Playing in their maiden United Rugby Championship season, the Stormers went to be crowned champions. And Senatla is adamant the Cape side has it in them to repeat such a title charge.

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“I think it’s going to be pretty similar to what we brought to the URC,” the 29-year-old said of the Stormers’ Champions Cup debut campaign. “We brought a little bit more flare and running off the ball.”

“I think the Northern Hemisphere teams tend to keep everything quite safe and that’s how they play the game – they’re quite systematic, well structured, well oiled, very technical, very tactical.

“At Stormers we try to play with more instinct and try to use intuition in our play more. You’ll see we put some air into the ball and try to use feet and skill to beat people, instead of using a whole system.”

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John Dobson’s team will make their Champions Cup debut against French giants Clermont, followed by a game against London Irish before a return clash against Clermont. This prompted Senatla draw parallels between the rugby’s Champions Cup and soccer’s universally loved Champions League.

“My first impressions [of the Champions Cup] would definitely be that it is something quite equivalent to the heights of something like the Champions League, if you think of soccer,” he said.

“It’s the best of the best coming out to play each other, so it’s nice for us, because as an athlete, you always want to be measuring yourself against the best.

“If you’re playing against the best of the best, then you get to measure yourself up there. It’s quite exciting for us to get our first go at it.

“You hear stories about the rich, rich history of certain clubs, your Toulons and Saracens. You want to test yourself against that history and make some of your own.”

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Senatla was injured in the Stormers’ opening game of the URC season and will be out until the New Year, thus missing the pool stage of this season’s tournament.

“I’m glad I’m not going to France because it’s quite cold. My injury came around at the right time! Hopefully, we’ll still be in the competition when I come back. I’ll be pushing them hard so I can play when it’s warm!”

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Damian Willemse and Senatla celebrate with teammates. Champions Cup.
Damian Willemse celebrates with his Stormers teammates. Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images.