Cape Town - The Stormers have suffered yet another massive injury blow, with flyhalf Kurt Coleman tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Tuesday’s practice.
An impeccable source has told Independent Media that Coleman sustained the injury without being tackled during a training session in Newlands.
Independent Media understands that Coleman will undergo an operation on Friday and is likely to be ruled out for the rest of the rugby year. He had gone through a number of moves during a backline practice on Monday, and looked in fine shape.
But on Tuesday, the 26-year-old pivot had stepped off one of his feet and had felt something was wrong in his knee, but played on until he was eventually unable to walk and in excruciating pain.
An immediate diagnosis by the medical staff concluded that the entire ligament was off the bone, and a subsequent visit to a specialist for scans confirmed the bad news.
An ACL tear normally takes eight to nine months to heal, and it is the same injury that Stormers wing Dillyn Leyds picked up during practice a few weeks ago.
Coleman will be operated on by renowned knee specialist Dr Spike Erasmus, who also did Jean de Villiers’s surgery when the former Springbok captain suffered his horrific knee injury in the final Test of 2014 against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
In that incident, De Villiers had what was described as a “car crash” of a knee injury as he had torn his ACL, medial cruciate ligament (MCL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), as well as dislocating his knee cap and having his hamstring torn.
But he managed to work his way back to fitness and made it to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, where his notorious history at the tournament struck once more when a broken jaw in the second match against Samoa ruled him out of the rest of the tournament, and he retired from Test rugby after that.
So there is still hope for Coleman to make a return to top-class rugby next year, but the injury comes at a bad time for him as he had just established himself as the first-choice Stormers No 10 following the injury to Robert du Preez.
Coleman scored 38 points with the boot as the Stormers won four out of their first five games to top their Africa 1 group, with the Grey High School product impressing with his passing game and tactical kicking.
His ability to stay cool under pressure and vary his game will be missed by Stormers coach Robbie Fleck, who is likely to hand the flyhalf starting berth to youngster Jean-Luc du Plessis, the son of former Bok wing Carel, for Friday night’s clash against the Sunwolves at Newlands (7pm kickoff).
Jean-Luc has shown some good touches in the few minutes of game time he has received off the bench, and will have to spearhead the Stormers’ attack as Du Preez was ruled out for 12 weeks with a knee ligament injury that he sustained against the Cheetahs on March 5 that didn’t require surgery.
Du Preez will only be back after the June Test window, which means that Du Plessis is set to don the No 10 jersey for the next seven matches – against the Sunwolves, Lions, Reds, Waratahs, Sunwolves away, Bulls and Cheetahs.
The SA Under-20 pivot from last year, Brandon Thomson, is set to come on to the Stormers bench as flyhalf cover for the Sunwolves game on Friday.
Fleck will announce his team on Wednesday.