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    Stormers hold breath on 3 locks

    2019-03-26 10:56

    Gavin Rich - SuperSport.com

    Cape Town - It's a good thing the Stormers have plenty of depth at lock for if they didn’t they’d be facing a mini-crisis in the build-up to their second Super Rugby tour game against the Blues in Auckland on Saturday.

    Kick-off is at 08:35 SA time.

    Last week it was just the admittedly influential figure of Eben Etzebeth that they were waiting on, but according to supersport.com, two additional second row forwards are now having to prove their fitness before they can be considered for selection.

    JD Schickerling has what Stormers forwards coach Russell Winter described as an AC joint problem in his shoulder, while Salmaan Moerat, who came on to the field for Schickerling against the Hurricanes at the Westpac Stadium last Saturday, lasted only a short while before he was concussed.

    Although the Stormers are confident that all three will be ready to play against the Blues if needed, with Etzebeth in particular expected to pass the fifth stage of the concussion test that he failed last week, the point is that there is some doubt over all of them.

    And the same can be said for Jaco Coetzee, the loose forward reserve who has been a revelation when he has come on to the field so far this season and when he started as a late replacement against the Sharks. Coetzee went off with concussion towards the end of the narrow loss to the Hurricanes and will, like Moerat and Etzebeth, be subject to the concussion protocols before he can be cleared to play.

    “JD went off early but we don’t think the injury is a problem and it is a condition that we are aware of and are managing. I am not a doctor but it appears to be his AC joint is the problem area. It is not as serious as we at one stage feared but it is a long season so we need to be careful,” said Winter.

    “Eben is looking quite positive. As you know he sailed through most of his concussion protocols last week and we expect him to be ready by Thursday. It also looks positive for Salmaan and Jaco, both of whom have to get through the usual protocols before they can be cleared to play. For the rest it is all positive and we haven’t had to send anyone home or call someone out from South Africa.”

    The Stormers management might though have had to consider calling out a lock were it not for the incredible depth they boast. Pieter-Steph du Toit, now playing on the flank but who boasts extensive experience in the second row, moved to lock in the second half against the Hurricanes. He and Chris van Zyl could conceivably continue against the Blues if they had to, but there is also Cobus Wiese to take into consideration.

    The utility forward is equally at home at lock and on the blindside flank, and if coach Robbie Fleck feels he has to, he can use him in either position.

    The Stormers team will be named on Thursday.

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