Star DHL Stormers wing Bryan Habana could be out of action for up to ten weeks after picking up a knee injury during his team’s high-octane 36-34 Super Rugby win over the Chiefs on Saturday.
The Stormers scored three great tries en route to their nailbiting win over the defending champion Chiefs but it came at a cost when Habana was stretchered off in the 56th minute.
“Bryan’s done his MCL (in his left knee) and, conservatively, he could be out for ten weeks. He could be back after seven weeks… but conservatively I’d say it’s ten (weeks) for now,” said DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.
“When you lose a Springbok and a quality player like Bryan it’s never an ideal situation, but we’re getting Jaco Taute back and Gerhard van den Heever played very, very well when he came on, and Gio Aplon played just as well so we have enough replacements there.
“We wish Bryan well for a speedy recovery and when he returns he’ll be back in the mix, but our focus is fully on the replacements now,” said Coetzee.
Habana was the Stormers’ only injury concern from the game against the Chiefs, with flanker Rynhardt Elstadt having been replaced because he was cramping.
According to Coetzee, hooker Scarra Ntubeni and lock Eben Etzebeth will be back by the beginning of April in time to be available for the Stormers tour to Australia and New Zealand. Squad captain and star loose forward Schalk Burger has been training well but Coetzee did not want to predict when he would be playing again.
Speaking more about his team’s victory over the Chiefs, in a memorable home encounter, Coetzee admitted: “It’s been a tough start but it’s always pleasing to turn it around. The odds were against us but I’m pleased how they turned it around. It was a big improvement and the guys’ attitude was good.”
But Coetzee still wants to see more of an improvement from his charges who have the week off before taking on the Brumbies – back at DHL Newlands – on Saturday, March 23.
“We played against the best attacking side in the competition and we did well, so I’m naturally pleased,” he said.
“That said, I still don’t think it was a complete performance. We’re well placed and the bye is coming at a good time for us. We’re looking forward to the week off to recap and take some perspective on things.”
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers had some new scars to show off after his team’s win but he agreed with his coach’s summation of the match and also praised his teammates.
“I’m relieved after the win. It was a massive effort. A lot of pride was at stake and the guys put up their hands and showed they’re willing to play for each other and that’s also pleasing,” said De Villiers.
“Every time we got that 13-point buffer… they came back. Their tries were well-executed but you know (with the first two tries) sometimes the bounce can go against you – although their next two tries were well-constructed efforts.
“I think the crowd pulled us through in the end but we know it could easily have gone the other way.”