Springbok hooker Joseph Dweba will be hoping that his decision to join the Stormers, from French club Bordeaux, will be the tonic he needs to make a play for the third hooker berth for the Boks at the 2023 World Cup in France next year.
Barring any significant injuries, Malcolm Marx and Bongi Mbonambi will fill two of the hooker berths going into the showpiece event, with the third spot then up for grabs.
Dweba was arguably the front runner when he was picked as the third choice hooker for the Springboks for the current international season, but his chances have taken a hit after two poor performances against the All Blacks and Wallabies.
Dweba was thrown into the deep end after an injury to Mbonambi ruled him out of the second All Blacks Test, with him surprisingly preferred ahead of Marx, but an error filled performance then saw him replaced just after the half hour mark.
In the Boks’ next match against the Wallabies, Dweba was again backed to start, and although he put in better showing, it was an inconsistent performance that saw him replaced at half time.
The second Wallabies Test then saw Deon Fourie chosen as the backup hooker on the bench for Marx, who ended up playing the entire game.
With Fourie now an option and an exciting youngster like Johan Grobbelaar waiting in the wings, Dweba has a battle on his hands to claim that third spot.
Stormers assistant coach Rito Hlungwani, however, believes that Dweba’s decision to join the Cape franchise will give him the best possible chance to make the World Cup team.
“I cannot express how excited I am to have Joseph joining us. Having watched him from a distance he is an extremely physical and explosive player, and he looks like an angry Rhino on the field,” said Hlungwani.
“He is someone who will definitely suit our environment and we are really looking forward to him joining up with us. He has chosen the right environment to come and develop his skills to be a Springbok. So we will work hard to make sure he gets into that World Cup squad.
“We all understand that it will take a lot of hard work. The first thing we have to do is make him understand that we have to dig deep and work extremely hard to assist him in getting into that environment.”
Dweba will also be assisted in settling in at the Stormers by one of their stalwarts, Scarra Ntubeni, who he will also be competing with for the starting jersey, which should help give him a healthy rivalry to build on.
The defending champions, the Stormers, kick off their new URC campaign on September 24 against Connacht.