Ex-Stormer Oli Kebble returns to prove he can emulate Kitsie and co: ‘He’s been clear’

Oli Kebble. (Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images)

  • Former Stormer Oli Kebble returns to Cape Town with the Glasgow Warriors keen to prove a point.
  • The 29-year-old South African-born Scottish international had to play in the shadow of his former teammates, who are now key Springboks before moving to Scotland.
  • But his Warriors coach, Danny Wilson, is more than confident he’ll be up to the challenge.

Oli Kebble returns to his old hunting ground as a man on a mission.

That’s the assurance given by his Glasgow Warriors head coach Danny Wilson ahead of the Scottish club’s United Rugby Championship clash with the Stormers on Friday at the Cape Town Stadium.

During a relatively unsatisfying five-year stint with the Stormers, the 29-year-old had to play in the shadow of former Junior Springbok teammate Steven Kitshoff.

READ | Stormers boosted by Gelant and Moerat returns for Glasgow fight

Kitshoff’s departure for Bordeaux at the end of 2015 allowed Kebble to claim his place, but the presence of other crafty technicians like JC Janse van Rensburg and Ali Vermaak as well as his own injury problems prevented him from taking advantage.

Once the affectionate nickname ‘Spicy Plum’ was due to return to South Africa in 2017, Kebble packed his bags for Scotland’s biggest city.

Now an 11 Test Scotland international, he has a point to prove against Springbok opponents who were above him in the Stormers pecking order.

“Oli is extremely excited and motivated to basically go ‘home’. He’s really keen to prove himself at this level, especially against this opposition,” Wilson said on Thursday after selecting Kebble to start in the No.1 shirt. .

“He told me that very clearly in the build-up to the week.”

More importantly, Kebble will play a notable role in imbuing his teammates with local knowledge in a game that could prove crucial in the play-off race.

Teams:

Stormers

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Hacjivah Dayimani, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Adre Smith, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain)

Subs: 16 JJ Kotze, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Nama Xaba, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Warrick Gelant

Glasgow

15 Ollie Smith, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Sione Tuipulotu, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Kyle Steyn, 10 Ross Thompson, 9 Ali Price (captain), 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Rory Darge, 6 Ally Miller, 5 Kiran McDonald, 4 Richie Gray , 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Johnny Matthews, 1 Oli Kebble

Subs: 16 George Turner, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Rob Harley, 20 Thomas Gordon, 21 Jamie Dobie, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Cole Forbes

“Oli obviously has a pretty good knowledge of this team and the individuals, so we talked about it quite openly,” Wilson said.

“It’s another small battle that will have a huge bearing on the outcome.”

Wilson is under no illusions, however, that his troops will have their hands full against Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, who will be supplemented by tough veterans in Vermaak and Brok Harris.

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Kebble once had Frans Malherbe as a front-row partner. (Getty Images)

“The scrum time is going to be a challenge with these first two experienced rowers out there. It’s a good group of attackers we’re up against, so we’re very aware of that.

“The Stormers gave our scrum a lot of attention via the referee, for some reason, so there’s obviously a good influence from them on the set piece.

“We have two very experienced props ourselves, Oli and Zander (Fagerson). They are also quality players.”

Kick-off is at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Chester T. Johnson