‘Weird’ for Stormers centurion Scarra Ntubeni to face Eben Etzebeth

Hooker Scarra Ntubeni has walked a long road with the Stormers and Western Province

Hooker Scarra Ntubeni has walked a long road with the Stormers and Western Province. Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Published Dec 28, 2023


It’s taken him a while – including seven operations – to reach 100 appearances for the Stormers, but Springbok hooker Scarra Ntubeni will finally achieve that milestone this weekend.

To take into account the many injuries Ntubeni went through, one just has to look at when he played his 50th game for the Cape side compared to that of his best friend and former Stormers captain Siya Kolisi.

Both arrived in the Cape on the same bus from the Eastern Cape to join the Western Province Rugby Institute in Stellenbosch.

The Bok captain, though, brought up his century of games for the Capetonians in 2018 against the Bulls. Ntubeni, in the same match, only notched up match No 50 off the bench.

But he will finally reach a century of Stormers caps when he faces the Sharks in Saturday’s United Rugby Championship clash at Cape Town Stadium (7pm kick-off).

It will be the final match of 2023 for the former URC champions, with a deserved break awaiting them before Champions Cup action starts in mid-January.

“It’s been tough times, times where I wanted to give up,” Ntubeni said yesterday about his journey.

“Having seven operations and reaching 100 caps, I am very fortunate to keep getting another chance, and another chance. I am excited ... it has taken me a while.

“I’ve played with plenty of guys who’ve gotten theirs. Andries (Bekker), Jean (de Villiers), Schalk (Schalk Burger), Brokkie (Brok Harris), and Peter Grant. To finally get a 100 feels special. But the thing is to perform on the field.”

Ntubeni, at the peak of his career, had opportunities to play elsewhere, but he decided to plant roots in Cape Town, and all through his injuries, Western Province and the Stormers stood by him.

The 32-year-old hooker also took a pay cut to stay at the union despite other offers being on the table. And despite all his injuries, he continued to put 100 percent into his rugby for the franchise.

“I often found myself wondering why I’ve stayed so long. But the union has been quite generous to me. They haven’t only looked after me on the field, but from day one,” the one-cap Springbok said.

“If I were ever to leave Cape Town, I wouldn’t stay in South Africa. At this moment, I am very happy on and off the field with what the Stormers have done for me.”

Looking towards the Sharks game, Ntubeni said the Stormers are not nervous about the challenge from the Durban outfit.

Still, they will have to be up for what guys such as Springboks Eben Etzebeth, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi and Aphelele Fassi can bring.

It will be Etzebeth’s first match against his former side, and Ntubeni has played most of his rugby with the Bok enforcer behind him in the scrum. Now, they will face each other head-to-head.

“Eben doesn’t have a point to prove. Knowing him, he is always up for a game wherever he is playing. He is very competitive and he wants to (have a) go,” Ntubeni said.

“He will ask some questions of us, and they will be digging into his knowledge of players he played with here, like me. It’s going to be weird playing against him. I have never played against him.

“It will obviously be challenging, but we are looking forward to the fight on Saturday.”

IOL Sport