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    Aplon is 'looking positive'

    2013-03-26 10:04

    Gavin Rich - SuperSport

    Johannesburg Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has not given up hope of Gio Aplon facing the Crusaders in the Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the New Zealand side at Newlands on Saturday.

    According to the website, the Springbok utility back was led from the field after a sickening collision with Brumbies No 8 Fotu Auelua as he tried an attempted tackle this past weekend. At the time it didn’t look as though Aplon would be back in a hurry, but he said after the game that he felt fine and Coetzee was encouraged by the results of the cog-sport test carried out to detect possible concussion on Monday.

    “He did his test today and it is really positive,” said Coetzee after Monday’s training session at the High Performance Centre in Bellville.

    “We will gradually give him some training time, and then gauge it from there. If he comes through the training without any symptoms, he will be available for the weekend. At the moment it looks good. I am confident you will see him training fully by Wednesday.

    “Concussion is not something you mess around with and the cog-sport tests are not something that can be manipulated, so if what comes out of that is positive then it can be taken as a good sign. But we just want to monitor him for a bit before making a decision on his availability.”

    If Aplon is ruled out, the Stormers don’t have too many other options for back three positions as Bryan Habana is still eight weeks away from full recovery from an MCL tear. Jaco Taute played much of the second half in the 35-22 win over the Brumbies and could be in line to play fullback, with Joe Pietersen switching to the wing. Gerhard van den Heever was excellent in the other wing position against the Brumbies.

    “Joe has played wing and we will look at him as an option there, but when it comes to the back three, it’s not like we have a lot of guys left standing. We will look for our strongest combination, but I am not sure what that is at the moment and much will depend on whether Gio is fit to play.”

    Coetzee’s mind has been made up for him when it comes to the front row, with Steven Kitshoff’s suspension for a dangerous tackle against the Brumbies necessitating a change at loosehead for the first time this season. Springbok Pat Cilliers will wear the No 1 jersey and can expect to be severely tested by the Crusaders’ All Black front-row.

    Brok Harris will come into the squad as back-up on the bench, with Coetzee and the Stormers benefitting from the decision taken a few years back to give Harris playing experience on both sides of the scrum.

    “Brok played for the Western Province Vodacom Cup side at the weekend and we hear he went really well. We have given him game time at loosehead in the past so it certainly won’t be a new position for him should he be forced to come on in that position,” said the coach.

    The Crusaders meanwhile received a blow to their chances of maintaining their recent stranglehold over the Stormers when skipper Kieran Read was forced out of the South African tour with a toe injury sustained against the Southern Kings last weekend. He joins Dan Carter (paternity leave) and Richie McCaw (six month sabbatical) among the regular Crusaders key players who won’t be playing at Newlands.

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