The football doesn't stop!

The 2014 SWC might be over, but the PSL and English Premiership are around the corner! Have your say on our Forum!

LIVE

    Head-scratcher for Coetzee

    2013-02-10 12:17
    Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

    Cape Town - Stormers coach Allister Coetzee will already be mulling over how to rebalance his team in the event that blue-chip tight forward Eben Etzebeth is declared a non-starter for the Super Rugby opener against the Bulls at Loftus in less than a fortnight.

    At the time of writing, it was not yet known whether Etzebeth’s first-quarter ankle injury in the friendly encounter with Boland Cavaliers on Saturday had been found serious enough to rule him out of the big north-south derby on Friday, February 22.

    The young, imposing Springbok lock hobbled off after an awkward landing from a lineout leap, in an encounter the Stormers eventually won 57-0 - they exhibited both sprightly aspects and lingering hints of rust as they whipped their rather pauper-like neighbours at Cape Town Stadium.

    VIDEO: Stormers v Boland Cavaliers highlights

    Given the Stormers’ mostly enviable squad depth in 2013, Coetzee and his lieutenants will not be short of replacement options for the Pretoria showdown: it is more a question of ensuring that the pack is reshaped in the correct way in the possible absence of Etzebeth.

    Somebody like the honest, reliable - if not quite world-beating - De Kock Steenkamp could simply be drafted into the No 4 jersey as Andries Bekker’s second-row partner, although that would really be a less-than-ideal alliance of two customers who are both better suited to No 5 than as “enforcers” in the other shirt.

    That would leave intact the initially expected loose forward combination for the clash with the Bulls: Siya Kolisi on the open-side, versatile Rynhardt Elstadt at No 7 and Springbok incumbent Duane Vermeulen at No 8, where he faces an enthralling scrap with fit-again Pierre Spies.

    Considering the lingering uncertainty over players like captain Schalk Burger and Michael Rhodes through injuries of their own, that had seemed the Stormers’ starting trio for Loftus.

    But the best option for Coetzee - and he has reportedly already dropped heavy hints that this is the route he would take - would probably be to ask Elstadt, who looked sharp and hungry in the first half against Boland at No 7, to revisit a lock partnership with Bekker that had been consistently effective two seasons ago before Etzebeth burst onto the scene.

    Shifting Elstadt to the second row, where he undoubtedly has the required “mongrel” for No 4, might also afford the Stormers, who are clearly wishing to up their try-scoring potential this season, the opportunity to introduce a speedy, skilful, low-centre-of-gravity customer to the loose trio.

    First among such candidates would be Deon Fourie, who started in his most customary position of hooker against Boland but had only confirmed for extended periods of the WP Currie Cup-winning campaign in 2012 how suited he is to a fetcher’s slot among the loosies.

    Fourie was typically active and vigorous in open play on Saturday, although he did err with a few lineout throws and when temporary recruit Martin Bezuidenhout from the Lions got some decent game-time in the middle of the front row as Fourie switched to the side of the scrum, he ticked a lot of boxes.

    The 23-year-old from Orkney certainly looked as though he would be capable of serving the cause with some aplomb in Pretoria, should Fourie indeed move to six.

    Still another option for the Stormers could involve the dynamic, tearaway Nizaam Carr, a former SA U20 star, being promoted to the side of the scrum to leave Fourie the designated starter at hooker.

    But Carr is feeling his way back from a serious knee injury last year and at this stage perhaps offers best potential in a burst off the bench, where his X-factor could come in handy as the contest develops against the Bulls.

    Don Armand is another industrious, lock-loosie “crossover” player who contributes to the Stormers’ blossoming depth.

    First prize for the Stormers, however, would quite obviously be a medical report that Etzebeth will be back running again surprisingly quickly ...

    *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    5 comments
    Add your comment
    Comment 0 characters remaining
    Live Video Streaming
    • SS3
      Tue, 29 Jul 2014 @
      04:00
    • SS4
      Tue, 29 Jul 2014 @
      05:00
    • SS5
      Tue, 29 Jul 2014 @
      05:59
    • SS7
      Tue, 29 Jul 2014 @
      06:00
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk

    Fixtures

    02 August 2014
    • Waratahs v Crusaders, Sydney 11:40

    Results

    26 July 2014
    19 July 2014
    12 July 2014
    11 July 2014
    06 July 2014
    05 July 2014
    04 July 2014
    28 June 2014
    27 June 2014
    31 May 2014
    30 May 2014
    24 May 2014
    23 May 2014
    18 May 2014
    17 May 2014
    16 May 2014
    11 May 2014
    10 May 2014
    09 May 2014
    03 May 2014
    02 May 2014
    26 April 2014
    25 April 2014
    19 April 2014
    18 April 2014
    12 April 2014
    11 April 2014
    05 April 2014
    04 April 2014
    29 March 2014
    28 March 2014
    22 March 2014
    21 March 2014
    15 March 2014
    14 March 2014
    08 March 2014
    07 March 2014
    01 March 2014
    28 February 2014
    23 February 2014
    22 February 2014
    21 February 2014
    15 February 2014

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts

    EXPERT OPINION

    “Advantage is a great part of rugby, says Tank Lanning, but it allows for lots of personal interpretation, hence Victor Matfield’s tirade. ”

    Opinion Poll

    The 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby final will be contested between the Waratahs and Crusaders. Who is your money on?

    Soccer World Cup quiz!

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.