Gavin Rich - SuperSport
Johannesburg - The DHL Stormers’ chances of picking up the win over the Vodacom Bulls at Newlands on Saturday that would enable them to cement their place in the top two on the overall Super Rugby log could depend heavily on how injured players recover in the build-up week.
Halfbacks Dewaldt Duvenage and Peter Grant were both key players when the Stormers broke a long drought against the Bulls at Loftus in March.
However, both are doubtful for Saturday’s penultimate league game and if they are not available to play it could have a massive impact on the Stormers chances of victory.
While on tour coach Allister Coetzee said that Grant’s chances of starting against the Bulls were “90 to 95%” and that was why he had been sent home early (to recover), but indications from around the camp are that Grant’s injury is not responding as well as hoped and he is now considered unlikely to wear the No 10 jersey on Saturday.
Fortunately for the Stormers, newcomer Kurt Coleman, who is the fourth choice Stormers flyhalf, stepped up to the plate in the good win over the Rebels at the weekend. Coleman was responsible for 18 of his team’s points through a well taken try, two conversions and three penalties.
That haul of points should on its own have boosted the 21-year-old’s confidence, but perhaps the most important thing about the game was the way he was prepared to take the ball at the gainline and play a much greater role in dictating the Stormers attacking game than he had been when he made his first start in Canberra the previous week.
Coetzee had said before the match that he had selected Jean de Villiers to the No 12 jersey with the express purpose of helping the young flyhalf settle, and it appeared to work a charm. Coleman was up at the gainline to get a pass away that put Jaque Fourie into a gap in the early minutes and after that he hardly put a foot wrong.
Coleman is playing because of injuries to Grant, Gary van Aswegen and Lionel Cronje. The last mentioned played when the Stormers smashed the Sharks 32-12 in their last derby in Cape Town, so it’s not as if the Stormers are completely lost when they have their first choice pivot out.
But a match against the Bulls in front of a full house is a different proposition for a relatively green player than one against the Rebels in Melbourne, so the Stormers should still be holding thumbs that somehow Grant will make a miraculous recovery this week.
Duvenage though is as important as he tactical kicking brings the variation needed and will help ease the pressure on Coleman should Grant again be absent.
Duvenage of course ended up playing parts of some games overseas at flyhalf before going over on his ankle towards the end of the 16-3 win over the Brumbies in Canberra.