Ntubeni injury forces Stormers’ handComment on this story
Cape Town - The long-term injury to Stormers first-choice hooker Scarra Ntubeni means flank Deon Fourie will have to be sacrificed for front-row duty again.
Ntubeni will be sidelined for eight weeks following a foot injury suffered at Loftus Versfeld over the weekend, where the Cape side were beaten by the Bulls in their Super Rugby clash.
Matthew Proudfoot, the Stormers' forwards coach, said Fourie, Stephan Coetzee and Vodacom Cup player Michael Willemse are all in the running for the two hooker slots in the 23-man squad to play the Force on Saturday.
Fourie, while playing as a loose-forward, has consistently been one of the few stand-out players in the Stormers' ranks.
“Scarra's injury is a major blow because it is like we have to start all over again,” Proudfoot said on Monday.
“We'll look to play Deon at hooker again but we'll also be working with Stephan (Coetzee) and Mikey (Willemse) this week and see how it goes before we make a selection call.
“Our set-piece looked good at stages and we're hoping to take it (the progress) a step further this week.”
Prop Brok Harris suffered a cut eye-lid and flank Schalk Burger has a sore back, which forced him to leave the field in the second half.
Both players will be tested on Wednesday before Saturday's match-day squad will be announced.
On the positive side, flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis (broken nose) and wing Kobus van Wyk (wrist) will return to training on Tuesday, and will be in this week's selection frame.
Captain and centre Jean de Villiers (shoulder), lock Michael Rhodes (general soreness) and prop Oli Kebble will all undergo fitness tests on Wednesday to determine their availability.
Tests done on Monday on prop Frans Malherbe showed that he will require another week to recover from concussion, suffered two weeks ago.
Proudfoot said the focus at training this week will be much the same as last week.
“The Force play a similar game to the Bulls and they kick for distance,” said Proudfoot.
“Of course, the difference will be they won't be kicking at altitude this time so they won't be getting the same distance, but kicking is a key component of their game.”
The Stormers scored two early tries against the Bulls after securing turn-overs and Proudfoot feels that it could be an aspect of the game that is worth working hard at.
“With the regular change of personnel, you're not always holding your own at the set-pieces, and hence you surrender attacking platforms.
“We could look to the breakdowns to force attacking platforms and that's one area that we are prepared for.”