Gavin Rich- SuperSport
Johannesburg - The DHL Stormers received notification that lightning can indeed strike in the same place twice when they lost hooker Deon Fourie for the first part of the Super Rugby season at the weekend.
In one of those uncanny twists that sometimes happen, Fourie broke his hand in the last warm-up fixture two weeks before the kick-off to Super Rugby – exactly the same stage they lost Tiaan Liebenberg to a knee injury last year. Fourie was injured in the 38-13 win over the Kings in Port Elizabeth, whereas Liebenberg sustained his 2010 injury against the Boland Cavaliers in Cape Town.
It is not clear how long Fourie will be ruled out of rugby for, but a broken hand normally takes a minimum of six weeks to heal. That should effectively mean he misses the first three Stormers games as they have their first bye in the third week of competition. Nonetheless, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee is nonetheless not too pleased about once again having to start Super Rugby with one of his top two hookers on the sidelines.
“It is bad news for us as he makes a good impact on the field (either as a starter or as an impact substitute),” Coetzee told reporters after the match at Nelson Mandela Stadium.
Indeed, Fourie was supposed to be one of the solutions to a tricky problem faced by the Stormers this season – the one related to the absence of a recognised star fetcher now that Francois Louw, who used to perform that role for the Cape side, is playing his rugby for English club Bath. Fourie is so good on the ground and indeed in broken play that he has in the past been considered as a loose-forward when team selections have been made.
With Fourie out of the first few games it brings young former WP under-21 star Siyabonga (Scara) Ntubeni into the frame. Ntubeni played the first few Super Rugby matches last year in the absence of Liebenberg so he does have the experience and is considered a player of immense potential, but he is a bit rusty at the moment after undergoing a knee operation during the off-season.
“He is the next best and we can also have a look at Clement Lewis of Boland. He has been training with us,” said Coetzee.
Lewis was good for Boland when they won the Currie Cup First Division last year and he was also excellent when he played for the Stormers against his regular provincial teammates in a pre-season game last month.
On the plus side for Coetzee, Duane Vermeulen and Andries Bekker both came through their comeback game from a long lay-off without any mishap and Fourie will be the only potential first choice player who will start the new season on the injured list.