De Jongh boost for Stormers
Cape Town - Juan de Jongh, one of South Africa's finest midfield talents, will be unleashed against the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday evening.
The Stormers' head coach Allister Coetzee announced on Monday that centre De Jongh, who has been out with an injured jaw sustained in pre-season, will be included in the match-day squad of 22 players. But he did not specify if he would be in the run-on XV.
"Juan has been cleared to play and he's excited about returning to the game," said Coetzee. "He will be considered for the starting line-up and since he's a Springbok he has lots to offer.
"Bryan Habana might have wanted another outing or two at outside centre but we'll do what's best for the Stormers."
Habana played in the midfield in De Jongh's absence.
There is still a measure of uncertainty that the Stormers' enforcer Rynhardt Elstadt will play and tests will continue this week before Coetzee makes a call on his availability for the Sharks clash.
"We're just looking to see how he's going in contact situations and in the light sessions he's done okay," said Coetzee. "The important thing is that we manage players properly. It's going to be a tough encounter and we'll see how he goes in training this week."
News on captain Schalk Burger is that the loosie has a torn medial ligament, but the injury will not require an operation. "Schalk won't be operated on and we'll treat him conservatively," said Coetzee. "His knee will be in a brace and we think at this stage it will be six weeks before he has any action again."
Flyhalf Peter Grant left Japan on Monday morning after his stint with the the Kobe Steelers came to an end, and he will report for training on Wednesday.
Coetzee said he was pleased with the performance of the Stormers' rookies against Hurricanes at Newlands over the weekend.
"I asked the young players to swim and I'm pleased to say they coped well," said Coetzee. "They are not there yet but I'm looking for a big improvement with every outing. It won't be easy to play Super Rugby against experienced players and they know they still have a way to go before they're a final product."
Springboks Andries Bekker (lock) and Jean de Villiers (centre) have injury niggles after the weekend's match and were rested from training on Monday.
Both players will be available for selection this week.
Coetzee said the target on Saturday will be to improve on the side's match winning performance against the Hurricanes.
"On Saturday it will be all about showing all-round improvement," said Coetzee. "I wasn't happy with the way we managed to get out of our half because I felt that we should have been more clinical. Our finishing wasn't what it should have been and that cost us a few tries."