No Malherbe for Cheetahs duel
Johannesburg - Springbok tighthead prop Frans Malherbe is unlikely to make his return to the Stormers team for Saturday’s Super Rugby derby against the Cheetahs at Newlands.
According to the supersport.com website, while Jean de Villiers will definitely be back to lead the team and Schalk Burger and Sailosi Tagicakibau were both training on Monday, coach Allister Coetzee has confirmed that Malherbe was still showing symptoms of concussion the last time he was tested and will sit out the recommended full three weeks for concussion.
“The rules on concussion are very strict and this is Frans’ third week so I don’t think he will be available for selection,” said Coetzee.
“However, Oli Kebble has come through his tests so he is back in training and will be ready to play in the Cheetahs game.”
Kebble was set to make his first start for the Stormers in the match against the Vodacom Bulls two weeks ago but was ruled out with concussion sustained in the clash with the Highlanders at Newlands the week before that.
He also missed out on the win over Western Force, so Saturday could well be his first feel of the No 1 jersey.
However, Coetzee has hinted he may give a start to Alistair Vermaak, the 25-year-old back-up prop who has done well as a replacement in the last two games.
“I have been really impressed with Alistair. I enjoy it when someone takes their opportunity when it is offered to them and Alistair has done that. I must still see though how he goes as a member of the starting team. That is what we don’t know. But we also don’t know that about Oli Kebble, who hasn’t had a start and got injured when he was supposed to start.”
Coetzee said that Kebble and Vermaak would be the loosehead props in the match day 23 this week, with Brok Harris moving back to his more familiar position of tighthead as back-up to Pat Cilliers.
Meanwhile Steven Kitshoff, the first choice loosehead, is likely to be out for the rest of the season. Kitshoff sustained a knee injury against the Highlanders that initially ruled him out of rugby for eight weeks, but it has subsequently been found that he requires an operation to repair a torn ligament in his foot.
It is a similar operation to the one that Springbok prop Eben Etzebeth underwent after the last international tour so it is unlikely that Kitshoff will be back playing before the end of the 2014 season.