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Coetzee on hooker ‘crisis’

PUBLISHED: January 23, 2013


DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee has released an update on his team’s injury ‘crisis’ at hooker.

He revealed on Wednesday that youngster Scarra Ntubeni underwent an operation to repair his injured shoulder (on Tuesday) and that he would be out of action until mid-April.

 

Coetzee told the official DHL Stormers website: “It was decided, after a second opinion, that it would be best for Scarra to undergo an operation.

 

“He should be good to go by mid-April, which means he could still make the tour (of Australasia) if all goes well.”

 

Springbok hooker Tiaan Liebenberg continues to make good progress from his back injury, with the coach explaining: “Conservatively, Tiaan should be ready by the third week of Super Rugby. He did some training with us in Hermanus, but, like I said, I’m being conservative at this stage by saying the third week.

 

“At this stage I’d say he’s at about 60/70%, but he needs to get his conditioning up to speed. You cannot just step in and play Super Rugby after a lay-off, he’s a bit behind the other guys in that regard.”

 

With Absa Currie Cup-winning captain Deon Fourie the only fit and experienced hooker at coach Coetzee’s disposal at present, he admitted that they were looking outside the region for a battle-hardened No.2.

 

“It’s a specialist position, so you need an experienced player (at hooker),” said Coetzee, “Scarra (who is now injured), is our young hooker so there is no need for another youngster.”

 

Last year’s DHL WP Under-19 hooker, Freddie Kirsten, and his Under-21 counterpart, Stephan Coetzee, have been training with the DHL Stormers’ Super Rugby squad thus far, but Coetzee did squash earlier media speculation that former Springbok captain John Smit would be called upon.

 

“We are talking to three possible hookers,” said Coetzee, “and I can tell you that John Smit is definitely not one of those players we are talking to!

 

“As soon as something is finalised with one of those players, all of whom are South African-based players, we will announce it – as we normally do.”

 

Meanwhile, the DHL Stormers boss confirmed that he would be looking to play his best possible combinations during his team’s two pre-season games – against the Cheetahs on February 2 and the Boland Cavaliers on February 9.

 

That means that players like squad captain Schalk Burger (knee) and Andries Bekker (toe) would all be getting game time at some point – as would the rest of the 30-man Super Rugby squad.

 

Coetzee concluded: “We’ll know by Monday whether Schalk and Andries will play any part in our first game (against the Cheetahs).

 

“These pre-season matches are important to us – they’re momentum-building games – and all players who want to be in contention for our opening Super Rugby game against the Bulls would need to play some part in at least one of our pre-season clashes.”