Little relief for Stormers
Gavin Rich, SuperSport
Cape Town - Skipper Jean de Villiers will be back, vice-captain Schalk Burger may be back but there will be none of the expected hooker relief for the Stormers when they return to Vodacom Super Rugby action against the Lions at Newlands on Saturday.
According to the supersport.com website, coach Allister Coetzee was hoping before the break for the bye that all of De Villiers, Burger, Pat Cilliers, Cheslin Kolbe and the hooking duo of Scarra Ntubeni and Tiaan Liebenberg would be back in the selection mix for this week’s game.
However, on Monday he had to report that they will both still be out this weekend, and there is only an outside chance of Ntubeni being ready for the following game against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
"It looks like Tiaan will be ready for the Highlanders game the week after the Cheetahs.
"Scarra may be ready to face the Cheetahs, but he will definitely not be playing this week," said Coetzee.
In the absence of the two top ranked hookers, Deon Fourie will continue in the position, with Stephan Coetzee providing back-up from the bench.
The coach said there was no thought of looking outside for reinforcements at this stage.
Mike Willemse was on his way back but he got injured in his first match after returning from injury playing Vodacom Cup this weekend.
"You will recall that he played ahead of Stephan Coetzee in last year’s Currie Cup.
"Mike will be back again in a couple of weeks. We have decided to back Stephan, who got his Super Rugby debut during the overseas tour and did well for us.
"He played in the Vodacom Cup game for Western Province so the issue of him not having game time has been cleared up."
With the injuries to the hookers being matched by a parallel crisis at lock, where umpteen players have come and gone in the second row this season, the lineouts have been a massive concern for the Stormers.
However, Coetzee is confident that it will be sorted out for the Lions game, and the lineouts did go much better in the recent match against the Waratahs.
Burger will be given until Tuesday lunch-time to prove his readiness for Saturday's match.
He ran at 70% in training on Monday and Coetzee said his availability will be dependent on him getting through the next training session without any after-effect from Monday's run.
De Villiers also didn't train in the afternoon.
The return of De Villiers to the midfield will mean Damian de Allende moves back to the wing for this game, with De Villiers being reunited with Juan de Jongh.
"We have the policy that the best players should be on the field if possible," said Coetzee.
"Damian has started five games at No 12 this year so he has been given opportunities.
"We reckon he has also done a good job for us on the right wing and he can do the job against the Lions."
The man who wore the No 14 jersey against the Waratahs, Kobus van Wyk, has been ruled out of the Lions match.
"It looks like Kobus is going to be out for a while with an abductor muscle injury," conceded Coetzee.
However, that does not mean that the fit again Kolbe will come straight back into the team.
Coetzee said that he would be looking to manage Kolbe’s return in much the same way as he did the return to fitness of Jaco Taute.
In other words, the Springbok Sevens star, out since the start of the season with a hamstring strain, will be playing off the bench against the Lions.