Elstadt return gives Stormers depth
Cape Town - That Reynhardt Elstadt is back for the Stormers can only be good news as Super Rugby's business end approaches.
The 26-year-old has been sidelined for most of the 2016 campaign with a groin injury, but he returned to the starting line-up in Saturday's 40-22 win over the Reds at Newlands.
Elstadt's physicality has always made him a stand-out player, but it is his flexibility that makes him a really valuable part of the Stormers pack this season.
With Eben Etzebeth still out injured, Elstadt slotted in alongside Pieter-Steph du Toit in the second row on Saturday despite having played most of his rugby last season at flank.
Elstadt does have the experience at lock, and he considers 2011 one of his best seasons when he played No 4 for the Stormers.
With the largely green JD Schickerling the other lock cover in the Stormers current set-up, Elstadt's return to fitness is a major boost.
And while he is thrilled to be back, Elstadt knows he still has a long way to go.
"It’s been really good to be back on the field. I think they’ve eased myself and Damian (De Allende) back really well … allowing us to get our confidence back a bit," he said in Bellville on Monday.
"After the first start for both of us I feel we went strongly. It's not where I wanted myself to be but every week I’ll progress and hopefully I’ll get to where I was and even take it a bit further."
Elstadt believes that there is something special about the current crop of players at Newlands.
"I’ve been in many campaigns and a few semi-finals," he said.
"The difference is that we’ve got a really young team and it just feels like we play a kind of rugby that is fearless.
"They just want to get the ball and run with it and there is a lot of excitement ... the one is trying to help the other one to be a better player.
"I think we can pull this one through … we back ourselves."
With the way things are progressing currently, the Stormers look set to stroll through to a home quarter-final.
From there, anything can happen.
First, a tricky test against the Waratahs awaits. Kick-off at Newlands on Saturday is at 19:15.