Stylish stormers a light in the dark for Zas

Leolin Zas says he left a ‘dark place’ behind and fully embraced the Stormers’ stylish brand of rugby in 2022, writes DEVIN HERMANUS.

Zas has bagged the second most tries (seven) in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship this season, forming a dangerous back three for the Capetonians with Warrick Gelant and Seabelo Senatla.

John Dobson’s men are eighth in the URC, with Zas’ stunning finish proving crucial to their three successive wins against European opponents.but it’s hard to believe the winger nearly stopped there after enduring several difficult seasons.

The 26-year-old broke his leg in a warm-up win over the Lions in 2017, before returning to Western Province and the Stormers in 2019 after two difficult seasons with the Sharks.

Ahead of Saturday’s showdown with the Ospreys at Cape Town Stadium, Zas said: “It’s been a tough journey but I’m more mature now, I’m a better player. Going back three years ago, I was in a bit of a dark place and almost decided that maybe this game wasn’t for me…but I stayed in it.

“It was hard being injured and not playing and I thought the break [at the Sharks] would have been nice, but I don’t think that was a mistake.

Watch: Stormers Zas-tastic Trial

Zas says playing for WP in the Currie Cup this season has also helped rekindle his passion for the sport: “I strongly believe in playing to improve, and that’s why the Currie Cup is there for the guys. who are not. I don’t play in the URC – it helped me gain confidence playing there.

“I’m enjoying my rugby now, and the [Stormers’] the style of play suits me – and if I can go over the limit, I won’t complain!

Stormers backline coach Dawie Snyman added: “I saw him play Super Rugby when he was 19, he was phenomenal. His injury was a setback, especially for a guy who relies on speed and skill. agility, and it was also sad when we lost it.

“It was a bit of a journey for him to come back… but he showed his maturity to go to the Currie Cup, it shows his mindset. Now he really turns off the lights and he gets his reward.

The Ospreys suffered a rough ride in Friday’s loss to the Lions in Joburg, so Zas expects the Welsh side to turn things around in Cape Town. “There will be a lot of contestants and a lot of high balls – I expect a lot of high balls!”

Chester T. Johnson