No Smit deal, say Stormers
Cape Town - Stormers coach Allister Coetzee
has dismissed reports indicating that former Springbok captain John Smit could turn out for the Cape franchise in this year's Super Rugby competition.
Wednesday's Cape Times
reported that Smit's name is being bandied about as a possible short-term solution to the Cape side's No 2 woes. Smit, 33, who has 111 Springbok caps to his name, is currently the understudy to Schalk Brits at Saracens in England, and is believed to be on his way to French Top 14 giants Toulon next season, but the newspaper indicated he could make a "pit stop" in Cape Town
on a loan basis.
However, Coetzee told the Stormers website
that they are not in negotiations with Smit. "We are talking to three possible hookers, and I can tell you that John Smit is definitely not one of those players we are talking to!
"As soon as something is finalised with one of those players, all of whom are South African-based players, we will announce it - as we normally do," said Coetzee.
Deon Fourie - who played the majority of last year's Currie Cup campaign at loose forward - is expected to start at hooker in the Stormers' opening Super Rugby clash against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Friday, February 22 (kick-off is at 19:10).
However, the back-up to Fourie remains uncertain.Tiaan Liebenberg
sustained a back injury last October and has only recently been eased back into taking contact during the Stormers' pre-season training camp in Hermanus.
Making matters worse, the Stormers' worst fears were realised when 21-year-old star Scarra Ntubeni was forced to undergo surgery on his shoulder on Tuesday, and is expected to be out of action for up to three months.
Coetzee did not reveal which players they are targeting. He was speaking at the press conference held at the Cape Town Stadium to announce that the Stormers' pre-season game against Boland on February 9 will be played there.
The Stormers also face Cheetahs in a pre-season game in Bloemfontein on February 2.