Stormers injury woes mount
Johannesburg - The Stormers have lost two first-choice locks in one fell swoop for the rest of the Super Rugby season.
Rynhardt Elstadt and De Kock Steenkamp both needed second operations which will sideline the two second-row forwards until the end of July.
The Stormers' growing injury list has been a constant feature this year and coach Allister Coetzee was unable to remember all his casualties at the usual Monday media briefing. Instead he issued a media statement on Tuesday.
"The initial operations on Elstadt's shoulder and Steenkamp's groin did not do the trick and they underwent operations again," Coetzee said.
"I can't see them playing this season again and it's likely that they'll return during the Currie Cup."
The lock crisis in the Stormers camp was exacerbated when they lost Springbok Eben Etzebeth (foot) before their first match and then Argentinean import Manuel Carizza (wrist) after only two matches. Both players are expected to return around mid-May.
In recent times, rookies Jurie van Vuuren and Tazz Fuzani were called up from the Vodacom Cup ranks, and both, in a very short space of time, have succumbed to the rigours of the game.
Van Vuuren suffered a shoulder injury in his Stormers debut match against the Reds three weeks ago and has now recovered, while Fuzani was nursing a hip pointer injury.
The Stormers have had a new and usually untried lock pairing for each of their seven matches to date.
First-choice hookers Scarra Ntubeni (calf muscle) and Tiaan Liebenberg (neck) are still out with injury and are expected to return to action in a fortnight's time.
Deon Fourie has been moved from the back row to the front row to help out and rookie Stephan Coetzee has enjoyed a rapid rise into the ranks of Super Rugby.
The South African Under-20 hooker Mike Willemse has joined the Stormers' wider training group but was out, injured with a sternum injury.
Up front, Springbok prop Pat Cilliers has shaken off a rib injury and Oli Kebble was recovering from a bruised knee. Both would be available for the Lions game.
Schalk Burger will undergo a fitness test on Tuesday to rest a troublesome quad muscle.
Coetzee reported that captain Jean de Villiers no longer had problems with his knee and would lead the side this week at Newlands.
"Jean is fit again and he is one of our key players in the effort to win matches again," Coetzee said.
"He's played a few matches at number-12 and Damian de Allende will move out to the wing.
"Now that Gio (Aplon) is out injured I was hoping Cheslin Kolbe would be ready but he still needs a week or so before he can be considered (for selection).
"Another wing Kobus van Wyk (abductor muscle) is still a week away from returning."