Cape Town – The long-awaited return of Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth has been delayed by a freak accident which has declared him a non-starter for the weekend's Super Rugby fixture against the Bulls in Cape Town on Saturday.
After an ankle injury sidelined him for the duration of the recent Springbok Tests, he bumped his toe against a shower door and had since been saddled with a swollen foot which would sideline him for a further fortnight.
There was more bad news for the Stormers on Monday when coach Allister Coetzee reported that props Brok Harris, Ollie Kebble, Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe all had injuries.
“There are so many injuries and I don't know where to start but Brok has had a knee operation which is likely to see him back only late in August,” Coetzee said.
“Ollie has an ankle's injury and he too will be back late in August.
“Steven has been ruled for 2014 with knee and ankle problems. Frans is still showing symptoms of concussion and is undergoing tests but he won't be back for the rest of the Super Rugby season.”
Injury returnees hooker Tiaan Liebenberg (neck), scrumhalf Louis Schreuder (thumb), fullback Gio Aplon (elbow), flank / hooker Deon Fourie (concussion), centre Juan de Jon gh (pneumonia) and wing Kobus van Wyk (wrist) were all back in training on Monday and would be in contention for Saturday's clash.
“We had a complete break for two weeks so that the players should freshen up mentally and physically and I could see at training today that the intensity levels were high.”
The Stormers' midfield reserves were thin this week since centres Jean de Villiers and Damian de Allende, both nursing knee injuries, were still on the injury list and were likely to return in about three weeks time.
“Juan (De Jongh) started running last week and by the way he trained today he looks like he's ready to play.
“The other centre options are Peter Grant, Kobus van Wyk and Sailosi Tagicakibau, who has played at centre for London Irish.”
Two players who seemed to benefited particularly well from lengthy injury lay-offs were flankers Schalk Burger and Siya Kolisi, both members of the current Springbok squad.
“Schalk may have played for 80 minutes in the last Test but he and Siya trained with great intensity after their injury lay-offs. We are now looking for the squad to get back to the fitness levels they were before the break so that we can end the season on a high note.
“It is so important to finish the Super Rugby season well so that we can take the momentum into the Currie Cup season.”
Hooker Scarra Ntubeni would be out for the rest of the Super Rugby season with a foot injury.
By Monday afternoon, well over 30,000 tickets had been sold for the match. – Sapa