Aplon goes under the knife
Cape Town – The Stormers suffered a big injury scare with star wing Gio Aplon having to undergo a scope on his right knee on Wednesday.
Coach Allister Coetzee confirmed the procedure when quizzed by Sport24. He is yet to receive feedback from the medical people involved, but is confident that Aplon will be fit for the Stormers’ first game against the Lions on February 26.
The Stormers opted for the procedure due to continued inflammation of Aplon's knee. He had a major workload at the Stormers, Western Province and Springboks last year.
“Gio did not undergo an operation. It was a scope to have a look at what is wrong with the knee,” said Coetzee.
“We just need to make sure. I don’t want to get to the middle of the competition and then his knee packs up. He’s available for our first game.”
Coetzee said that a player was usually sidelined for 2 to 4 weeks after such a procedure. The Stormers have a bye next week before taking on the Lions the following weekend.
If Aplon is not available, Coetzee has the option of using use Jean de Villiers, Danie Poolman or JJ Engelbrecht on the wing. Poolman and Engelbrecht are due to be in action in Saturday’s friendly match against Boland at Newlands.
Engelbrecht featured for WP in last year’s Currie Cup, while Poolman was a regular try-scorer for the under-21 side.
The uncertainty surrounding Aplon will also up the pressure on Bryan Habana to get back to his best form.
The International Rugby Board’s player of 2007 took some flack from the Newlands crowd on Saturday when he failed to catch a pass.
However, Coetzee defended Habana this week.
“I’m not looking at the issue emotionally. I would like to show you his involvement and work-rate, not just the flashy moments where he scores tries,” said Coetzee.
“It happens now and then that players knock the ball. Everybody makes mistakes. But you don’t easily get someone who competes so well for the ball in the air, defends well and gets involved so much.
“I’m very happy with Bryan’s work-rate. He makes a contribution and as long as he does that I will be happy. How bad can he be if that’s the case?”
Coetzee wants Habana to continue working hard fearlessly.
“If you never see a player making mistakes but he doesn’t do anything, how good is he really? I’d rather have someone who makes four or five mistakes, but makes 20 contributions.”