The DHL Stormers’ loose forward injury curse has struck again, with in-form flanker Siya Kolisi set to miss the rest of the 2013 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
Kolisi tore ankle ligaments in Saturday’s 28-3 win over the Cheetahs on Saturday and will be out of action for six weeks.
“It’s the least problematic ligament, the anterior one, so no surgery will be required, but he will out for six weeks,” DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said on Monday.
“The loose forward (injury) bogey doesn’t want to go away,” added the coach, “but, I guess, we should be thankful that it’s not as serious as the other guys (Eben Etzebeth, Peter Grant, Michael Rhodes) in terms of their ankle injuries.
“It happened in the first half (against the Cheetahs), but Siya didn’t even feel it. He felt it on Sunday only… so, yes, it seems like we have a curse at loose forward!”
Injuries seem to have been part and parcel of the Stormers’ 2013 campaign, not just at loose forward, and Coetzee pointed out: “We’ve got 12 top players out at present – that’s almost a full team – so I guess we’re almost immune to these big injury blows on a Monday.
“The big thing for me, however, is that the players that step in are ready to do so… and to take that opportunity that presents itself. It’s been our mantra all season long. Players cannot get the opportunity and say, ‘Well, next time I’ll be ready’, they must take that chance when they get in.
“A player like (centre) Damian de Allende has taken his chance this season and continued to develop along the way. (Hooker) Scarra Ntubeni came in at the 11th hour last week and look at how he performed? (Lock) Gerbrandt Grobler is also coming through nicely now. That’s how it is in this game and you need to build your depth – it’s crucial.”
In better news, prop Pat Cilliers (ankle) and flank Rynhardt Elstadt (knee) returned to full team training today after a long time on the sidelines.
“I am pleased that they came through training well today,” said Coetzee. “It’s ongoing, however, and we will monitor them and see how they react after today (for starters).”
Flyhalf Elton Jantjies (quad) and winger Bryan Habana (bumps and bruises) did not train on Monday, whilst prop Steven Kitshoff and lock De Kock Steenkamp missed the afternoon session. Jantjies, Habana, Kitshoff and Steenkamp will all definitely be available for selection this weekend.
Centre and captain Jean de Villiers (sternum) is still not quite ready to return to action, after missing the Cheetahs match. (See the match gallery HERE!)
Said Coetzee: “Jean is doing well, but he’s definitely not 100% as yet. I know he’s keen to play, but we don’t want to risk any further damage by rushing him back.
“There is a real possibility that Jean could be back for the Bulls game, but he must be 100% ready. If there’s a bit of pain (still), he won’t play. He must come through training next week and then I know he’ll be ready (to play).”
Hooker Tiaan Liebenberg (back spasm) is a lot better, and walking with less discomfort after being a late injury-withdrawal last weekend, but he was due to visit the specialist this afternoon. More will be known about his situation tomorrow.
“He couldn’t walk last week, so he’s certainly a lot better,” said Coetzee of Liebenberg’s untimely injury, “but we will know more after his visit to the specialist.”
Looking ahead to this weekend, as the Stormers prepare for a first-ever Super Rugby visit to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (kick-off 17h05), Coetzee concluded: “We’re expecting one helluva battle in PE.
“We put in hard work today and I know, from experience, that it’s best to forget about (our win over the Cheetahs) and to put in the hard yards ahead of the Southern Kings game.
“We still want to improve our log position and keep building on what we’ve been working on during June. I was obviously very pleased with the Cheetahs game, and it gives one confidence, but our plan has always been to win these last three games; that’s where the focus is.”
* Meanwhile, star Springbok No.8 Duane Vermeulen (knee) is two weeks away from returning to full field training. Vermeulen is currently doing his rehabilitation at the WP Rugby Institute in Stellenbosch.
“Duane will be back in two weeks, but where we will be in terms of our Super Rugby season remains to be seen.
“I think it’s safe to say that Michael Rhodes will be back, too, then… but we will deal with that as and when,” added Coetzee.