By Andrew Baldock, PA Rugby Union Correspondent
Stormers head coach John Dobson has hailed Munster’s “phenomenal” run to the United Rugby Championship final ahead of Saturday’s clash in Cape Town.
While the Stormers are chasing back-to-back URC titles, Munster have not won a major trophy for 12 years.
But Graham Rowntree’s team – beaten finalists in 2015, 2017 and 2021 – have shown their quality through some outstanding late-season form.
Only one #BKTURC Grand Final captain will lift the trophy, who is going to rise to victory? 🏆#URC | #UnitedWeRise | #STOvMUN pic.twitter.com/oYZQucqXew
— BKT United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) May 25, 2023
And their sequence of impressive results includes a 26-24 away victory over the Stormers last month.
“They came here and ended our unbeaten record, then they go to the Sharks (in Durban) – a fully-loaded Sharks – and draw.
“They go to Scotstoun in Glasgow, who haven’t lost there in the whole season, they win in Glasgow and they then go and win in Leinster. That is phenomenal.
“Graham Rowntree is obviously a very bright coach. He has done an exceptional job with Munster. He is a really nice guy, a true rugby guy, and what they have done lately is remarkable.”
Rowntree has made three changes from the side that defeated semi-final opponents Leinster, with centre Malakai Fekitoa, scrum-half Conor Murray and wing Calvin Nash all returning after completing return-to-play protocols following the quarter-finals.
Assessing the challenge, Rowntree said: “Looking at how we broke them down (in April) and dealt with their power game will help, but they will be better than that night.
“They will be battle-hardened themselves, so it will be a real challenge for us.
“But we are in a final, we back the work we’ve done, we back our fitness. There is loads to improve on in our game.”
Introducing your Grand Finalists... 🤩
Who’s lifting THAT beautiful trophy? 🏆#BKTURC #URC | #UnitedWeRise | #STOvMUN pic.twitter.com/soOO8G97sw
— BKT United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) May 26, 2023
South Africa internationals Deon Fourie and Marvin Orie return to the Stormers line-up after recovering from injury for what will be a sold-out encounter at DHL Stadium.
Dobson added: “It is an incredible feeling for us to make the Grand Final again – it is quite emotional.
“We have a lot of respect for Munster – the truth is that we have never beaten them – so while we are thrilled to be playing at home, we know it will be a big challenge against a good team.
“It should be an amazing occasion for the team, our passionate supporters and the city of Cape Town.”