Cape Town - The Stormers have suffered another injury blow with the news that new loose forward recruit, Johan du Toit, has been sidelined with a troublesome knee.
The 21-year-old, who is the younger brother of Springbok and Stormers lock Pieter-Steph, was one of five new signings announced by the Stormers earlier this month. The others were loose forward Stephan de Wit, hooker Ramone Samuels, fullback SP Marais and utility back Dan Kriel.
According to Netwerk24, Du Toit will only be able to start training in April. He is believed to have arrived in the Cape from the Sharks with the injury.
This follows after news broke last week that De Wit, who was signed from the Lions, had broken his ankle in training. He will be sidelined for an extended period.
Both players’ injuries will be a concern for Stormers coach Robbie Fleck, as they’ll be forced to start the season without a specialist ball fetcher.
When the new signings were announced, Western Province’s director of rugby, Gert Smal, said of the two players: "In Stephan de Wit we have a genuine openside flank who plays towards the ball, which should bring some balance to our loose forwards.
"Johan du Toit is a powerful player with a good rugby brain who can cover more than one position in the back row.”
Other Stormers players on the long-term injury list include hooker Scarra Ntubeni (Achilles) and wing Leolin Zas (leg).
The Stormers will play their first match of the year on Saturday (January 28), when they travel to Zimbabwe to tackle the Cheetahs in Harare.
This will be followed by a clash with franchise partners South Western Districts in George on February 4, before concluding their preparations for Super Rugby with a match against the Lions at Newlands on February 11.
They start their season proper at home against the Bulls on Saturday, February 25.
Fleck, meanwhile, on Thursday announced a 35-man touring squad for the trip to Zimbabwe.
“We have changed the way we have approached our pre-season preparations, so I am looking forward to seeing the results of that out on the pitch in Harare," Fleck told the Stormers' official website.
“There is a lot of talent in this squad, so it is about translating that into some good rugby which will give us a good chance to reflect and see where we are at."
Stormers touring squad to Zimbabwe:
Juarno Augustus, Nizaam Carr, Jaco Coetzee, Kurt Coleman, Damian de Allende, Juan de Jongh, Dan du Plessis, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Rob du Preez, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Dewaldt Duvenage, Rynhardt Elstadt, Eben Etzebeth, JC Janse van Rensberg, Siya Kolisi, Cheslin Kolbe, Dillyn Leyds, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, SP Marais, Godlen Masimla, Bongi Mbonambi, Khanyo Ngcukana, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Caylib Oosthuizen, Justin Phillips, Ramone Samuels, JD Schickerling, Chad Solomon, Brandon Thomson, Frans van Wyk, Chris van Zyl, Jano Vermaak, Cobus Wiese, Damian Willemse