Stormers: Taute return delayed
Cape Town - The Stormers will have to wait a little longer before they are able to call on the services of Jaco Taute, one of last season's Currie Cup heroes for champions Western Province.
The Springbok fullback/centre has been on the sidelines for the past six weeks with a knee injury and his progress while on a rehabilitation regime has been "slightly" delayed.
Speaking at a media briefing in Bellville on Monday, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said that initially Taute was expected to be available at the beginning of March.
"If everything had gone to plan Jaco would have been available last week already, but there has been a slight delay in his progress. It was not something that our medical team had expected," said Coetzee. "Jaco will now stay with the rehabilitation regime a bit longer and by the looks of things he may only be ready when we return from tour (in a month's time)."
Several players sat out training on Monday as the Stormers coaches felt the players needed a break to clear any niggles sustained in last weekend's bruising derby battle against coastal rivals, the Sharks.
"We have already played three derbies and the going has been tough. We will look to use Mondays as a time for players to nurse niggles. For that reason, the likes of Juan (De Jongh), Eben (Etzebeth), Scarra (Ntubeni) and Chesie (Cheslin Kolbe) all sat out as a way of managing their physical condition," said Coetzee. "Eben took a bang on his shoulder which has affected his previous (chest) injury a bit.
"Scarra took a knock to the shoulder but it does not appear to be serious but we will make a call on him later this week."
At this stage, lock Etzebeth is regarded as a doubtful starter for the next match against New Zealand's Chiefs.
Hooker Bongi Mbonambi (AC joint) and lock Ruan Botha (concussion) were sidelined by injury last week but both have regained fitness, and their performances at Monday's training suggest both are ready for run-on berths.
The only other injury concern in the Cape franchise's camp is loose forward Michael Rhodes, who has a knee injury.
"Michael (Rhodes) did some controlled running on his own today (Monday) but he is not 100% comfortable as yet. He won't be up for selection this week and there's no need to risk him at this stage.
"It looks like he could start again when we're on tour in a fortnight’s time."
The big drawcard at Newlands this week will be the All Black and Chiefs midfielder Sonny Bill Williams who has hordes of fans in the Mother City.
Coetzee said Williams is one of many stand-out players in the Chiefs side, which he feels have no apparent weakness.
“One cannot point to a weakness in their line-up, they’re a quality team, with a quality coach in Dave Rennie," said Coetzee. "It’s not for nothing that they’ve won this competition twice in the past three years. They have a strong set-piece and boast quality players across the board.
“The Chiefs can generate their own ball through their solid set-piece and, of course, are dangerous in broken play.
"They will also be hurting after their loss to the Highlanders this past weekend; they are on this tour to win, nothing less will do for them.”