Gerbrandt Grobler has flown to Australia to bolster the DHL Stormers’ forward resources, with back row stars Rynhardt Elstadt and Duane Vermeulen on their way home with knee injuries.
Both Elstadt and Vermeulen limped off in the final ten minutes of the Stormers’ 15-21 Vodacom Super Rugby defeat to the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday and the pair face up to two months on the sidelines.
Grobler left for Australia on Sunday afternoon (SA time), with Elstadt and Vermeulen set to depart for South Africa on Monday morning (Sydney time).
“Both Rynhardt and Duane will be out for six to eight weeks – both suffered Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) injuries,” confirmed DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee, “it’s a massive blow for us at this stage of the season.”
In the absence of Elstadt and Vermeulen, Don Armand and Nizaam Carr could move into the starting line-up against the Rebels next Friday, with Grobler – fresh off a strong Vodacom Cup campaign for DHL WP – set to provide cover from the bench.
“As we saw in the final ten minutes against the Waratahs – losing Rynhardt and Duane had a big effect on the final result,” said Coetzee.
“We really will miss their influence – on defence and with ball in hand – but I have full confidence in Don and Nizaam to step up into starting roles should they be required to do so.”
Lock Grobler, 21, has made one appearance for the DHL Stormers this season, coming off the bench in his team’s 22-15 win over the Sharks a month ago.
He played in Saturday’s Vodacom Cup semifinal for DHL Western Province – a game which WP lost 25-44 to the Golden Lions in Johannesburg – but had no time to reflect on the defeat after being forced to pack his bags on Sunday morning for the trip to Sydney.
Said Coetzee: “Gerbrandt will provide much-needed cover from the bench for us against the Rebels.
“He is a good line-out forward and won’t be short of match practice after playing a key role for our Vodacom Cup side up until now. We look forward to his arrival and getting him up to speed for Friday.
“We’ve got to stay positive and keep working hard for the next game, despite it being a short week (with the game on Friday),” added the Stormers coach. “The players that are fit, along with Gerbrandt when he arrives, will have to do the job for us against the Rebels.”
Meanwhile, hooker Deon Fourie – who picked up a rib injury against the Waratahs – will stay on with the squad in the hope of being fit for the Rebels clash.
“We will continue to monitor Deon, on a day-to-day basis,” said Coetzee. “He was in less discomfort today (Sunday), so we will see how he looks on Monday.”
Fourie, of course, can also provide back row cover for the Stormers – having played in the No.6 jersey during Western Province’s Absa Currie Cup triumph last year.
The DHL Stormers squad will do video analysis and gym work on Monday, before resuming full training in Sydney on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The team will transfer to Melbourne on Thursday ahead of their final tour match, against the Rebels at AAMI Park on Friday (kick-off 11h40 SA time). The squad will return home on Saturday.