Stormers await Sevens bombshell
Cape Town - As Super Rugby approaches its business end, the Stormers are preparing for the possibility of losing Cheslin Kolbe and Juan de Jongh to Neil Powell's Blitzbok squad for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The duo featured in the first four legs of this season's Sevens World Series and both players were largely impressive.
With the Blitzboks set to take a 12-man squad to Rio, both Kolbe and De Jongh are expected to be called up to an extended training camp some time in the beginning of July.
Depending on when the camp is, De Jongh and Kolbe could miss some of the end of the group stages of Super Rugby while inclusion in the Olympic squad would certainly see them miss the playoffs.
It is a scenario that coach Robbie Fleck has prepared for, but he still isn't certain what Powell's plans are with his backline fliers.
"As I sit here, we know that they’re in the mix. But I can’t
say when and if that’s going to happen," Fleck said over the possibility of losing two of his most important attacking threats.
"If they get called up, they get called
up. We’ll deal with it like we deal with any other situation and we’ll take it
head on. It is what it is.
"There has been communication in terms of when they do go.
That’s not for me to disclose here. I am in the loop if someone does get called
up to that squad I do know when they exit."
There is no doubt that losing Kolbe and De Jongh would be a massive blow to the Stormers' campaign.
De Jongh, co-captain of the side, has been in solid form all season and has led from the front - his defence unwavering.
His flexibility has also given Fleck options in midfield and now that Damian de Allende is fit, Fleck has finally been able to field his first-choice centre pairing.
But as big a loss as De Jongh would be, the loss of Kolbe could be even more damaging.
The 22-year-old has been the form South African fullback in Super Rugby this year and he has been at the heart of so many Stormers attacks.
With Dillyn Leyds out for the season, Kolbe has started every match for the Stormers in the No 15 jersey.
And while Fleck is preparing for the possibility of life without Kolbe, he does not have any tried and tested backup options at this stage.
Going into Saturday's clash against the Sunwolves in Singapore, Huw Jones remains the fullback cover.
"That’s why Huw Jones does, at training, he
does slot into that 15 position. We need to give him some game time at some
stage there," said Fleck.
"But first and foremost we have to go out there and do a job and
Huw’s progression at 15 has got to come through the training and the time he
gets off the bench.
"We’ve given that a lot of thought. We also have Jaco Taute
returning back from injury now as well. He’s started training with us this week
and he’s available for selection for next week.
"We’re fortunate that we are
getting some guys back who are playing in the 15 role. It would be crazy not to
have plans if Chessie does get called up."
Kick-off on Saturday is at 13:55 (SA time).