With the dust settled following Saturday’s victory in Bloemfontein, DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee had time to reflect on the 44-34 result and look ahead to the upcoming game in two weeks.
The first order of business on Monday for Coetzee was the status of loose forward Duane Vermeulen, who was stretchered off in the second half of the win over the Cheetahs. Unfortunately the coach did not have good news, with Vermeulen expected to be out for up to two months.
“Duane will be operated on tomorrow and will be out for 6-9 weeks. He has a small chip in his ligaments around his patella and whilst it could be worse, he is definitely out of the rest of the competition.
“He is a strong physical character, so I don’t think fitness will be a problem when he comes back. We are very fortunate it was just a chip and we are hoping he will return earlier than anticipated.”
Coetzee has already set his sights on how to manage Vermeulen’s absence, with Nick Koster expected to slot into the number 8 jersey. He said: “Nick Koster has been competing for a starting birth throughout the campaign, so we are very fortunate to have a player of his calibre. He will add another dimension. We will miss Duane, but Nick has similar strengths and should be an able replacement.”
The main emphasis for the team this week is to rest, having earned a bye after finishing the league campaign in second. Coetzee said: “It is fantastic to have a break and it is coming at the exactly right time. We had to work hard to get this bye and I give credit to everyone involved to get us this far. All elements of this campaign have been planned from the beginning – from the squad depth, selections, training and opposition – so this is the reward for all that effort. Whilst fans may sometimes not understand our decisions, I think the proof is in the result so I am delighted to give the boys the week off.
“Now it is important for players to get away from HPC and be mentally refreshed. I don’t want them to think about rugby so they are fresh next week for another big challenge. Another semi at Newlands is great reward and we are really looking forward to the game.”
In other injury news, the coach is optimistic that CJ van de Linde will be able to return for the next clash. Meanwhile scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage is fit and will definitely be in the mix for the semifinal on Saturday 2 July.
Tickets for the Vodacom Super Rugby semifinal at DHL Newlands go on sale through Computicket on Thursday 23 June, with prices ranging from R100-R275. For more information log on to www.iamastormer.com.