Gavin Rich - SuperSport
Cape Town - Springbok backline players Juan de Jongh and Jaco Taute will again be missing from action when the Stormers tackle the Chiefs in what for the Cape franchise has become a crucial Super Rugby clash at Newlands at the weekend.
According to the supersport.com website, De Jongh has been out for over a month now with a hamstring injury sustained in a warm-up game in Bloemfontein. He was said to be on his way back before the match against the Sharks in Durban last weekend, but Stormers coach Allister Coetzee rested him in what he described as a precautionary measure.
However the length of De Jongh’s absence from the playing field suggests it is a problem that goes beyond it just being a precautionary measure, with hamstring injuries often proving notoriously difficult when it comes to healing in a stipulated time.
With Coetzee confirming on Monday that De Jongh won’t be considered this week, it sets up Damian de Allende for his third consecutive Super Rugby match in the Stormers No 12 jersey. Although there is the option of using Peter Grant at No 12, that is unlikely to happen. With an uncharacteristic number of first time tackles having been missed by Stormers players at the back this season, it would appear more likely that Grant will come in at flyhalf for the Chiefs game in place of Elton Jantjies.
Taute, who joined fellow Bok Jantjies in coming to the Cape on loan for the Lions this season, is being given another week to recover from the groin injury he suffered against the Bulls.
Further players on the crocked list after training on Monday afternoon were Bok wing Bryan Habana, who was having trouble with a quad, Joe Pietersen and prop Frans Malherbe. However Coetzee said all three would be ready to play the Chiefs.
Yet it is still an extensive list of players with knocks, and Coetzee is thankful that this is a year where the Stormers can withstand a few injuries.
“Just imagine where we would be now if we didn’t have the depth we currently have,” said Coetzee.
On the positive side of the balance sheet when it comes to injuries, the Stormers are set to welcome back hooker Tiaan Liebenberg this week. The Springbok has resumed full training with the squad and Coetzee says he’s ready to play, although after sitting out since the last Currie Cup league match of 2012, it’s likely that his involvement will be from the bench.
Coetzee confirmed that Eben Etzebeth and Scarra Ntubeni, two young players currently out who were instrumental in Western Province’s Currie Cup title win last season, are both set to return to training on 1 April. He would not commit himself though on skipper Schalk Burger.
“Schalk is running on the treadmill and is feeling positive but I wouldn’t like to set a date on his return at this stage,” said the coach.
Coetzee said that although the situation his team finds itself in is far from ideal, with just one log point from two games, his players are still positive.
“This past weekend was a big improvement on the match against the Bulls and as Sharks coach John Plumtree said, it was a game of small margins and we could have easily won it with a bit of luck. The players have a lot of pride and they know they now have the responsibility of getting it right against the Chiefs.
“At least the two games that we have lost were tough away games. If you look at the competition so far, you will note that there have only been four matches where the visiting team has won, and that shows how tough it is. With this being our first home game we feel like we are starting afresh this week.”