Du Toit hammer blow: Wiese's chance to lift stocks?

    2020-03-02 11:54

    Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

    Cape Town - A reignition of talented Cobus Wiese's slightly stalled first-class career.

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    That, I suspect, could prove a major, if inadvertent offshoot of the dreadful news from the Stormers camp - as if that limp, costly home defeat to the Blues wasn't enough - that World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit has been side-lined for around two months from Super Rugby.

    Optimistically, the thigh-injury interruption for the star blindside flanker could mean a return in early May, which is roughly midway through the Capetonians' particularly demanding overseas tour ... though they'd probably already have played stinkers on paper against the Chiefs and Crusaders, before crossing the ditch to tackle the Brumbies next.

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    Will the Stormers still be at the races by then? You do begin to wonder.

    But the big task for head coach John Dobson now is to identify a most fitting, interim replacement at No 7 - not easy considering just what a dynamic, motor-beat factor Du Toit has been for them.

    One option, of course, will be that younger "blond bomber" from the same bloodline: the Springbok stalwart's 24-year-old brother Johan, who has the similar, rugged qualities of a flank-cum-lock that Pieter-Steph boasts and has been more than workmanlike in a few appearances this season.

    There is also someone like former Paarl Gym utility forward Ernst van Rhyn, no shrinking violet at 105kg and 1.91m, although recently it seems the priority in the camp has been more to get him playing "to the ball" in an open-side (No 6) capacity.

    Lanky lock JD Schickerling also has the athletic capabilities, don't forget, for the side of the scrum, but it makes better sense to keep him in the main lock mix alongside Salmaan Moerat and Chris van Zyl.

    My own belief, though, is that this setback might just signal the big break Wiese, that direct-playing toughie from Upington, needed to come back from the (often injury-caused) shadows of the squad.

    A standout member of SA Schools and then SA U20 duty between 2014 and 2016, the now 22-year-old - who may well be UK club-bound after the 2020 campaign - has been a bit of an in-and-out Stormers presence for a couple of years, but sports real abrasiveness to go with his mobility, lineout credentials and high general work-rate.

    He may just find himself the go-to guy in this crisis ...

    *Rob Houwing is Sport24's chief writer. Follow him on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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