There was better news on the injury front for the DHL Stormers on Monday, with hooker Deon Fourie being given until Wednesday to prove his fitness ahead of his team’s final Australasian tour match.
The Stormers will end their tour against the Rebels on Friday (11h40 SA time), and they might be able to call upon Fourie after tour-ending knee injuries to Rynhardt Elstadt and Duane Vermeulen – both of whom have already flown home.
Fourie picked up a rib injury against the Waratahs on Saturday, but there is hope that he could be fit to play this coming weekend in what is shaping up as a crucial Vodacom Super Rugby fixture.
“Deon has responded well to treatment thus far – it looks better,” said DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee from Sydney on Monday night (local time). “We will give him a chance until Wednesday before making a final decision (on him), but it looks relatively positive with Deon now.”
Fourie has played extensively at hooker this year for the DHL Stormers but the 2012 Currie Cup-winning captain is more than comfortable in the No.6 jersey – where he has shone for DHL Western Province.
Without Elstadt and Vermeulen, the versatile Fourie could perhaps help out in the back row in Melbourne on Friday. Hookers Scarra Ntubeni and Martin Bezuidenhout are quality players who could feature in the middle of the front row, whilst the likes of Don Armand and Nizaam Carr offer further back row options – alongside Siya Kolisi, a regular starting loose forward this season.
“Gerbrandt Grobler arrived here (in Sydney) at 5pm this evening, so we should still be able to pick a good team this weekend,” confirmed Coetzee. “A guy like Scarra Ntubeni could possibly start at hooker, Don Armand, too, at flank – it’s a case of them taking their chances, a similar situation to last year where we supported and backed our available players.”
However, when asked about whether he had though about making any unforced changes to the team this week, Coetzee explained: “When you sit with a lot of injuries there’s not a lot that you can do.
“I am definitely someone that would’ve gone to my bench (if possible), but I’m also a firm believer in giving people chances to rectify their errors. Certainly, there will be enforced changes and we’re looking at perhaps making one or two other changes too.
“In an ideal world I would also be looking at giving players an opportunity to play on tour – it’s always been the case. You’ve love to give everyone an opportunity (to play), but we need to win on Saturday too – it’s our last game on tour and we desperately need to (and want to) end with a win.
“In order to have the best chance of winning, you need to keep the team intact as much as possible for continuity’s sake; so it’s not a matter of just giving everyone an opportunity. But where we do feel that we need to refresh a bit and make changes, we will do that.”
The Stormers went down by just six points to the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday – their second bonus point defeat on tour and fifth in all this season; showing just how tight things have been in 2013.
However, the Men from Cape Town could still make it two wins from four starts on their tour should they emerge victorious on Friday.
“If we weren’t creating opportunities… then I’d be worried. We are creating opportunities, but our finishing is letting us down. We’re just not taking our chances and it tends to come at critical moments in a match,” said the Stormers boss.
“I can tell you one thing though,” added Coetzee, “there is a massive determination and will to end the tour with a win.
“We’re not about to give up, no DHL Stormers team ever will, and we will be giving it everything to end on a high on Friday. I have faith in each and every member of the playing and coaching squads on this tour and we will be working hard, once again, to right the wrongs.”
The Stormers team, to take on the Rebels, will be announced on Wednesday (10h30 SA time).