Stormers newcomer Wandisile Simelane. Photo: @Stormers

Simelane’s brilliance creates selection headache

Wandisile Simelane shines in Stormers’ 43-21 win over Edinburgh, giving coach Dobson a selection headache ahead of Ulster clash.


Stormers newcomer Wandisile Simelane. Photo: @Stormers

Wandisile Simelane, the former Lions and Bulls utility back, delivered a standout performance in the Stormers’ 43-21 victory against Edinburgh in the United Rugby Championship (URC) on Saturday in Cape Town.

Simelane’s display was arguably his best since leaving the Lions in 2022, where he had made several impressive appearances before falling out of favour and moving to the Bulls.

Simelane’s Move to Stormers Proves Beneficial

The Stormers brought in Simelane to bolster their backline after Ruhan Nel suffered a season-ending knee injury in December. The move was hoped to reignite Simelane’s career, similar to how it did for his friend Hacjivah Dayimani when he relocated from the Highveld to the coast.

Coach John Dobson admitted that Simelane’s performance had given him plenty to consider, stating, “Wandi is going to be special. What you can all forget about, like Joseph Dweba’s lineout throwing, don’t worry about Wandisile’s defence. He understands our system completely.”

Selection Headache for Dobson Ahead of Ulster Clash

With the return of fullback Warrick Gelant from injury and wing Ben Loader back to full fitness, Coach Dobson faces a selection headache for the upcoming match against Ulster.

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.

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

Stormers’ Return to Attacking Best

The Stormers were pleased to get back to their attacking best after their heavy loss against the Bulls earlier in the month. They outscored Edinburgh seven tries to three, but Dobson claimed that they still weren’t ruthless enough, leaving several scoring opportunities out there.

“It felt like a bit of our spark was back. It felt like that a lot more today, the way we want to play and our intensity, which is what Salmaan (Moerat, Stormers captain) asked from the team before the game,” said Dobson.

“What’s frustrating is how many tries we left out, after two weeks ago in Pretoria. It was probably double that today. But that’s not a technical thing. It’s not like something is wrong with our shape. I would rather have this than not being able to create those opportunities.”

Simelane’s impressive performance has undoubtedly given the Stormers a boost as they prepare to face Ulster in their next URC match. With competition for places in the backline heating up, it remains to be seen who will make the final cut in what promises to be an exciting encounter.