The Vodacom Stormers suffered a big set back this week when it was confirmed that lock Rob Linde will miss the entire Vodacom Super 14 tournament with a neck injury.
Rob had an outstanding season for the Western Province Currie Cup side in 2005 and would’ve been one of the senior locks in the mix for the Men In Black during the 2006 campaign. His fiery on-field presence will be missed in what is considered the toughest tournament in world rugby.
“Rob was doing personal bests in bench-pressing in November and December, but lost strength. He could only get to 70 – 80% of his usual mark and there was no apparent reason for it. He also lost feeling in an arm and we decided to send him for an MRI scan, which showed that there was a problem,” Vodacom Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe told the Cape Times yesterday. Linde will undergo an operation on Wednesday.
Youngsters Andries Bekker and Ross Skeate, whom both gained valuable experience during the 2005 season, are both fit, with Springbok Gerrie Britz and new comers Henk Eksteen and Dumpie Theron also available for selection.
In other news, Leopards’ flyhalf Naas Olivier joined the Vodacom Stormers today for a trial period and will be a welcome boost as back-up to Western Province’s young flyer Peter Grant whom will embark on his first season with the Cape franchise.
Grant assumed the kicking responsibilities for Western Province during the 2005 Currie Cup competition and made considerable strides under Kicking Coach Louis Koen. Grant’s aggressive style of play will be an exciting prospect during the 2006 Vodacom Super 14 and as a result it’s not surprising that his teammates have nicknamed him “Bash”.
Kobus van der Merwe will announce his final squad of 30 on 16 January.