The DHL Stormers have been boosted by the return to fitness of Ruan Botha, Nizaam Carr and Damian de Allende ahead of their 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby encounter against the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday (kick-off 19h10).
Wing Kobus van Wyk is an injury doubt, however, and flanker Siya Kolisi will not be risked this weekend.
The DHL Stormers will travel to Loftus Versfeld for their 2015 season-opener, before hosting New Zealand side, the Blues, at DHL Newlands the following weekend.
The team, to face the Bulls, will be announced at lunch-time on Thursday.
The full DHL Stormers injury report (09/02/15):
– Lock Ruan Botha (ankle), loose forward Nizaam Carr (viral infection) and inside centre Damian de Allende (slight quadriceps tear) are all back from their injuries and will be in selection contention for this Saturday (v the Bulls).
– Flanker Siya Kolisi is taking part in limited training. He is looking good but it does not seem likely that he will be risked this week.
– Wing Kobus van Wyk (calf muscle) is still an injury doubt. It’s a 10-14 day injury but he will be assessed again later this week.
– Lock Manuel Carizza (shoulder) is still out for another two weeks – as reported last week.
– Lock Eben Etzebeth (chest) is on track and is a week into his four-week lay-off.
– Prop Frans Malherbe (ankle) is back at full training. He is ahead of schedule at present and could come into selection contention in two weeks’ time.
– Wing Willy Ambaka has joined team training this week after his rehabilitation from a long-term leg injury.
– Fullback/inside centre Jaco Taute (knee) is a week into his six-week lay-off after undergoing a scope last week.
QUOTES FROM HEAD COACH ALLISTER COETZEE:
On selecting his team to face the Bulls – with the return of Botha, Carr and De Allende:
“You’ve got to trust your players on the bench – you cannot just have players to come on in an emergency.
“They’ve got to improve the plan when they come on, and up the ante at the same time. One has to make sure you get the balance right. I am not scared to chuck Nizaam into the starting line-up, but we will have a plan and see what is best for the team.”
On facing the Bulls away – the DHL Stormers’ third opening game at altitude in three seasons:
“I don’t want to be seen to be making excuses, for that is not what I am doing, but it is tough to start your competitive season at altitude.
“We have to find a way to combat the altitude factor, and clever use of the bench to control the pace of the game is the way to do that.
“If you’ve played five or six games and then go to altitude, your match fitness would be right up there. But it isn’t the case first up, as we experienced against the Lions last year, when we were caught out. These are not excuses I am trying to put out, but we have a plan or two and hopefully it can help.”