Stormers not spooked by the return of the ‘Bone Collector’

Willem Alberts of the Lions during the Emirates Lions press conference at Emirates Airline Park on February 06, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

John Dobson hails Willem Alberts as a ‘great Springbok’, but realises the bruising flanker will have to adapt to Super Rugby again.

The inclusion of Willem Alberts in the Lions squad for the weekend’s Super Rugby action is of no great concern to Stormers coach John Dobson.

The 35-year-old Alberts, who notched up 43 Tests for the Springboks between 2010 and 2016, was a surprise inclusion on the Lions’ bench when coach Ivan van Rooyen named his side on Thursday.

Battling with a bicep injury since arriving from Stade Francais, Alberts was expected to spend a few more weeks sidelined before featuring for the side he last played for in 2009.

A bruising forward who earned the nickname the ‘Bone Collector’ during his prime, Alberts will bring immense physicality to a Lions side that has in the early stages of 2020 looked nowhere near possessing the quality that got them to three successive Super Rugby finals from 2016-2018.

The Stormers, though, boast one of the most physical, well-drilled packs in the competition presently.

John Dobson Head Coach during the DHL Stormers training session and press conference at DHL Newlands on February 13, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ziyaad Douglas/Gallo Images)

“He’s obviously a great forward and a great Springbok, but this competition takes you a few weeks to get into it. It’ll take him some adaptation,” Dobson said at Newlands on Thursday after hearing of Alberts’ inclusion.

“I’m sure they’re trying to use him to make a big impact, but he is also coming off the bench to be met by messrs (JD) Schickerling, (Frans) Malherbe and (Cobus) Wiese, so I’m not too concerned, to be honest.”

While Pieter-Steph du Toit is the obvious behemoth among the Stormers forwards, Dobson has also handed a start to highly-rated youngster Juarno Augustus, who completes his return from a long injury lay-off.

“He’s been out for a long time, so we gave him some game time off the bench last week and to me he is one our top loose forwards,” Dobson said of the highly-rated 22-year-old.

“He’s got real x-factor and plays very similar to Jaco Coetzee. With Jaco injured, it was absolutely a no brainer.”

Dobson confirmed that he would look at giving Augustus around 60 minutes of playing time at Ellis Park.

“The paradigm around Trokkie is that he is unfit, but he is built, unfortunately,” the coach said.

“He’s got a bigger engine than people think. Any loose forward playing like he does will probably be around then (60 minutes).

“Last week he hadn’t played since late August, but he didn’t struggle at all.”

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