Botha back to boost Stormers
Cape Town - Specialist No 5 lock Ruan Botha will be considered for selection to the Stormers' starting line-up to face the Bulls in their opening Super Rugby clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
In the wake of the injuries to locks Eben Etzebeth and Manuel Carizza in the pre-season, the Stormers badly needed the likes of Botha and Jean Kleyn to return to fitness ahead of the start of the 2015 Super Rugby season.
Botha returns after long-term lay-off following an ankle injury last season.
The other lock contender would have been Gerbrandt Grobler but he was recently slapped with a two-year drug ban.
Despite Botha being out of the game for some time, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee, said he was "happy" to include him in the starting line-up.
"I'm happy to start with Ruan.
"It is more of a question for how long he'll play (in the match)," said Coetzee, at Monday's media conference in Bellville.
"Especially with Victor (Matfield) back it's going to be a challenge, but I'm confident about our line-out."
Loose forward Nizaam Carr has overcome the effects of a viral infection which caused him to miss out on action in the three warm-up matches.
However, Coetzee says he done well enough at training to warrant consideration for the starting XV.
"Nemo (Carr) is back and training flat out.
"It depends on how much game time other players (in the pack) have had before we decide if he'll start or off the bench," said Coetzee.
"Siya Kolisi (another loose forward) has had limited training sessions and he is training in a controlled environment.
"He is possibly a week or two away from being back in action." Kolisi injured a hamstring a fortnight ago.
The other player back from injury is utility back Damian de Allende who has recovered from troublesome quadriceps.
His return is vital in the absence of backline players like Jean de Villiers (long-term injury) and Kobus van Wyk who has a calf muscle injury.
Van Wyk is expected to be ready in the next few days and his condition will be assessed again later this week.
Coetzee said the Stormers' opening game presented the twin challenge of playing away and at altitude.
"It's never easy to play your first game away and at altitude but we've had that experience in the past," said Coetzee.
"We are also sitting with players who have had very little time in the warm-up games and their fitness will come into question. It's something we have to deal with and it's something that we've prepared for."
Prop Frans Malherbe (ankle) is still on the injury list but his recovery is well ahead of schedule and could return to action in two weeks' time.
At around the same, Kenyan wing Willy Ambaka (leg injury) is expected to fit for selection.