Rassie says losing Jean was a big blow

PUBLISHED: February 15, 2009

Vodacom Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus said after Saturday’s Super 14 defeat at Newlands to the Sharks that the early second-half loss of captain Jean de Villiers led to a “confidence dent” and it took his team a while to find their feet again.

The Stormers squandered a 10-0 lead at halftime to eventually lose 20-15 in their opening match.

De Villiers took a heavy bump to the head four minutes into the second half and he was stretchered off and taken to hospital.

“We’ve heard that Jean had numbness here and there (in his arm) when he arrived at hospital but that has since gone away,” Erasmus said after the match. “Now they are just doing tests to see if there isn’t something serious.

“He seems all right but he is being carefully monitored and we’re hoping he’ll be back at training on Monday or Tuesday.

“After he left the field we suffered a confidence dent and it’s something we’ll have to work on because we took about 10 to 15 minutes to find our feet again.”

De Villiers was replaced by Joe Pietersen, who went to flyhalf, with Peter Grant taking over from De Villiers at No 12.

Erasmus said he made the call in the week not to have a specialist centre on the bench and felt that he could not bring on Percy Montgomery to play at centre because the veteran Springbok had not spent any time in that position. “I did not think it would be fair on Percy to play there when he didn’t train there at all,” said Erasmus. “This injury to Jean is going to test the depth in our squad.”

Stand-in captain Gcobani Bobo agreed the team was shaken when De Villiers left the field. “It is kind of different because Jean is a world class player. He is the guy who has been leading for the past two years.

“We all had to pull ourselves together. He was always the glue of team but I should thank the guys for the effort they put in. The last 15 minutes has been all right.”

The Stormers camp expects to have more news on De Villiers’ condition on Monday when they start their preparation for Friday night’s game at Newlands against the Reds.