Cape Town - Experienced lock De Kock Steenkamp is on his way to the Ospreys, but it is not a departure that should significantly hurt a Western Province union that has developed a strong pool of promising second row forwards.
The supersport.com website reports that WP coach Allister Coetzee confirmed on Monday that Steenkamp will continue his career overseas at the end of the current season.
The 27-year-old has missed the entire 2014 rugby year with a groin injury that hasn’t given much sign of clearing up, and it appears that played a part in WP letting Steenkamp go.
"'De Kock is injured and he has really struggled with that groin injury, which is why he has been out for the whole year.
"So when the opportunity for him to play overseas came up we decided not to stand in his way," said Coetzee.
The Stormers did struggle in Steenkamp’s absence in the initial stages of the Super Rugby season, but young Ruan Botha quickly emerged as a more than capable replacement.
Botha, the man of the match against the EP Kings last week, is a strongly built young player who is excellent in the lineouts and in general play, with some coaches who have worked with him considering him a certain future Springbok.
It is not clear at this stage whether Manuel Carizza, the Argentinian who kept Botha out of the team in the early part of the Currie Cup season, will be staying on next year, but the Puma international has shown his value since recovering from the injury that kept him out of Super Rugby.
If Carizza is available, WP/Stormers won’t have too much to worry about when it comes to depth at No 5 lock, particularly given that there are also young players like Jurie van Vuuren coming through.
Of course, it goes without saying that the unfortunate injury that could well end the career of young Junior Bok JD Schickerling, who broke his neck playing for the WP under-21 team at Loftus just over a week ago, is a massive blow to the union as big things were expected of him.
At No 4 lock the Stormers will hope to have Springbok Eben Etzebeth to call on in the next Super Rugby season.
Etzebeth has been out injured for much of the past two Super Rugby seasons, but his value to the team is underlined by the fact that the Stormers/WP has rarely lost a game when he has been present.
But if Etzebeth needs to be managed with national considerations in the World Cup in mind, the Stormers won’t be let down by another player who is still under-21, Jean KIeyn, who has been the unsung hero of the successful WP campaign to the halfway point of the Currie Cup.
The good news for WP fans is that Kleyn has opted to take up a contract and continue with his rugby career after being convinced he had a bright future in the sport.
"Jean is a bright guy and he had the option of going to study mechanical engineering," explained Coetzee.
"However, the past few weeks have convinced him that he can make a career as a professional rugby player, and we are glad he has made that decision.
"Jean is an outstanding young player.
"What I like about him is that he is one of those real hard-nosed front-locks, a big guy who is a strong ball carrier and hits the rucks hard. He is also a hard worker with a big engine.
"Jean is also one of the young players who was used by us during Super Rugby because of the injuries. Having got a taste of that level so early will hold him in good stead next year."
Then there are also two blindside flanks, Michael Rhodes and Rynhardt Elstadt, who have performed well at lock when called on by either the Stormers or WP.