CAPE TOWN – The 2018 Super Rugby season seems to be no different for the Stormers in that they have again been plagued by injuries.
As if injury to Eben Etzebeth wasn’t enough, the Stormers could also be without powerful scrummager Wilco Louw as they get their Super Rugby plans in place.
The injury to Louw - picked up during their pre-season game against the Bulls in Wellington at the weekend - can be an especially worrying one seeing that the team's tighthead reserves are already running low.
Louw left the field five minutes into the game at Boland Stadium with a hip flexor injury, but following the 26-all draw, coach Robbie Fleck was unable to confirm the extent of the injury, saying that the young prop would undergo further assessments.
Fleck also said that they would have to look for a replacement outside the region if Louw’s injury is a lengthy one, and with Springbok tighthead Frans Malherbe still recovering from a neck injury, things aren’t looking too good for the Cape side.
Michael Kumbirai, a 20-year-old who had a couple of games at tighthead for Western Province in the 2017 Currie Cup, is also on the casualty list with a back injury.
Louw enjoyed a massive season with the Stormers last year, and his scrummaging ability was more often than not the main weapon when it came to dismantling opposition scrums. Needless to say, Louw’s set-piece work received huge praise - not only at franchise level, but also when he turned out for the Springboks.
When Louw left the field on Saturday afternoon, barely-out-of-his-teens Carlu Sadie stepped in and played the remainder of the match, and although Fleck said that he was happy with the Bellville High School product’s first game “at Super Rugby intensity”, the Stormers will want to make sure that the jersey for such a specialised position in a competition as tough as Super Rugby is in good hands as they prepare for their opener against the Jaguares next Saturday.
In terms of back-up, the Stormers also have Neethling Fouche, who is playing for Maties in the Varsity Cup.
But seeing that they have a tough tour to New Zealand so early in the season where they will face the Crusaders and the Highlanders following their match against the Waratahs Down Under, it’s completely understandable that Fleck is willing to cast his net wide in search of a replacement tighthead.