The DHL Stormers are confident of welcoming back regular captain Jean de Villiers for Saturday’s all-South African Vodacom Super Rugby Derby against the table-topping Bulls.
National skipper De Villiers has been out of action since his country’s June Test Series against Italy, Scotland and Samoa, but he is making good progress from his sternum injury.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said on Monday: “Jean will be back, he is looking good for this weekend.
“Jean has been our captain and playing really good rugby at No.12. He will come straight back, obviously if he’s ready, you have to be consistent with that.”
As luck may (or may not!) have it, Damian de Allende, who has filled in superbly for De Villiers at inside centre in recent weeks, and fullback Joe Pietersen joined the Stormers’ long list of the walking wounded – after the Kings match – but both could still be available for selection against the Bulls.
“Joe has a severe haematoma (on his quad). He has been withdrawn from training sessions and we’ll assess his condition on Wednesday,” said Coetzee. “It’s the kind of injury that needs complete rest, but I’m optimistic that he’ll be okay to play against the Bulls.
“Damian’s ankle sprain is a light one – he should be fine – but he won’t train until Wednesday,” added Coetzee of De Allende’s knock, also referring to De Villiers’s potential return too.
“(Prop) Pat Cilliers and (flank) Rynhardt Elstadt came through nicely on Saturday, that was pleasing and it makes a difference ahead of a big North-South derby against the Bulls,” added the coach.
Should Pietersen not be available for this weekend, then Coetzee will turn to Gio Aplon in the last line of defence, with Gerhard van den Heever joining the starting line-up in the No.14 shirt.
“Gio has done duty for us at fullback before and Gerhard also performed very well this last weekend. We’ve got (SA Under-20 fullback) Cheslin Kolbe here, but it would be silly just to chuck him in,” said Coetzee.
“There will be plenty of time for Cheslin to come through in the Absa Currie Cup, you want to set him up to utilise his expertise by making sure he knows the systems and the details properly.”
Looking ahead to this Saturday’s mouth-watering encounter at DHL Newlands, Coetzee said: “We want to finish strongly – it’s been our theme these past few weeks (since the resumption of Super Rugby) – and we want to continue improving our log position.
“It doesn’t matter if there’s no pressure or if you’re playing for (purely) academic reasons. It’s a big North-South derby… it’s always a big game… and there’s a lot of pride at stake.”
The Stormers started the week with a different approach, with the players staying off the training ground ahead of Saturday night (kick-off 19h10).
“We’ve come off a tough game in PE – the Kings were good, defensively, they were certainly up for it,” explained Coetzee.
“We’re obviously expecting another tough one this weekend – a massive one, in fact – and there’s a lot of detail we wanted to get through today. Normally you have about six or seven players not training on a Monday, so our thinking was to give the guys a good break and to get all our meetings out of the way in the process and to start team training tomorrow (Tuesday).
“We will have a double (training) session tomorrow and possibly on Wednesday too. So if you add in Friday’s captain’s run, that (still) gives you your five sessions for the week.”
The full DHL Stormers injury update is as follows (08/07/13):
New injuries (from the Kings match):
– Centre Damian de Allende (slight ankle sprain) – see above
– Fullback Joe Pietersen (severe haematoma) – see above
Expected back this weekend (to face the Bulls):
– Centre Jean de Villiers (sternum) – see above
– Hooker Tiaan Liebenberg (back spasm) – he will be given another week; he should be up and running next week
– Prop Frans Malherbe (ankle) – still out
– Lock Andries Bekker (back) – still out
– Lock Ruan Botha (ankle) – still out
– Flank Siya Kolisi (ankle) – still out
– Flank Michael Rhodes (ankle) – still out
– No.8 Duane Vermeulen (knee) – he rejoined his teammates at the HPC today; he should be ready to start team training next week
– Flyhalf Peter Grant (ankle & bicep injury) – still out
– Fullback Jaco Taute (knee) – still out
Long-term injuries – players that have not played yet in 2013:
– Prop Deon Carstens (retirement – neck)
– Flank Schalk Burger (calf, illness)