Cape Town – The Stormers were dealt a devastating blow on Tuesday with the news that Springbok centre Juan de Jongh has suffered a knee injury which will sideline him for at least six weeks.
“We've only just received the results of Juan's tests and we'll know later today what treatment will be prescribed,” Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said on Tuesday.
“Juan's absence now adds pressure to our midfield resources and it's even more imperative that we look for reinforcements.”
The first choice number-13 centre had suffered a ligament tear in last week's Super Rugby warm-up match against the Bulls.
De Jongh's midfield partner captain Jean de Villiers will sit out this week's pre-season friendly against the Kings in Port Elizabeth and Schalk Burger takes over the leadership.
An untried pairing of Michael van der Spuy and Damian de Allende will work the midfield.
The Stormers were looking to use De Allende, who played on the wing against the Bulls last week, at inside centre this season.
Fullback Gio Aplon is getting married on Saturday and his place is taken by Springbok Jaco Taute who returns from a long-term injury.
“It's great to have Jaco back and he'll have a run for at least 30 minutes,” said Coetzee.
“He's been out for a quite a while and for him it's about getting confidence back.
“I thought of Jaco as a centre for this match but we're a bit thin at fullback because we also have Cheslin Kolbe out with a long-term injury.”
The Stormers still do not have clarity on when their flyhalf Peter Grant will return from Japan because of on-going club commitments there.
“We are not in a position of luxury at outside backs” said Coetzee.
“We know what we have in Grant when he returns and we have an understanding of what the rest of the halfbacks in the squad have to offer. He offers immense value.
“Our other flyhalf Kurt Coleman is battling with injury. This week we'll go with Demetri Catrakilis again and Louis Schreuder at scrumhalf.”
Stand-in captain Burger said the team was excited about the debut of Argentinean lock Manuel Carizza.
“He's a classy international player whose played in Europe and we're impressed with what we saw from him on the training ground,” Burger said.
“Hopefully he can bring some Argentinean flair to the side.”
More bad news from the Stormers camp is that Ruan Botha suffered concussion in the Bulls game.
“We're happy with the way Rynhardt Elstadt and Michael Rhodes played at lock against the Bulls but we're looking at adding a lock to the squad. I am in the middle of a negotiation and the outlook is positive. I hope I could make an announcement soon.”
Stormers: Jaco Taute, Kobus van Wyk, Michael van der Spuy, Damian de Allende, Scott van Breda, Demetri Catrakilis, Nic Groom, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger (captain), Siya Kolisi, Manuel Carizza, Rynhardt Elstadt, Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Deon Fourie, Oli Kebble, Pat Cilliers, Michael Rhodes, Jean Kleyn, Nizaam Carr, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Louis Schreuder, Gary van Aswegen, Pat Howard, Devon Williams, Ryno Eksteen. – Sapa