CAPE TOWN - When Super Rugby Unlocked kicked off, the Stormers didn’t have a favourable injury situation up front.
They were hit particularly hard at at loose forward - where Springbok captain Siya Kolisi was ruled out after sustaining a grade-one hamstring tear against the Pumas in Nelspruit. Coach John Dobson also confirmed that Bok star Pieter-Stephen du Toit wouldn’t play rugby again in 2020. His brother, Johan was also unavailable.
Jaco Coetzee had also just recovered from injury, and while he did well when he came on for Kolisi in the first half, the green Nama Xaba also fell to injury.
But now things are looking up on the injury front as Province get ready to challenge for their 35th Currie Cup title.
Forward coach Rito Hlungwani yesterday confirmed that Kolisi will feature in their clash against their old foes, most likely off the bench, against the Blue Bulls in their Currie Cup-opener on Saturday (kick-off 7pm).
“Siya is fit. He has been training and is looking very good. We are going to let him get going this weekend. He is really excited to be involved with the guys,” he said.
There are several @BlueBullsRugby players and staff with connections to @WP_RUGBY and the Cape, and one of those coaches is Russell Winter | By @ashfakmohamed #CurrieCup @IOLsporthttps://t.co/BORGmlGjjM— IOL News (@IOL) November 24, 2020
Loosehead prop Alistair Vermaak, who sustained a neck injury during the pre-season last year, is also working his way back. His last appearance was in the 2018 Currie Cup final.
“Ali has been training with us. He had a nice scrum session now. He is doing really well and scrumming really well. So, we are really happy with the progress he has made after such a tough injury. He is someone we would like to see on the field as soon as possible.”
Marcel Theunissen and Ernst van Rhyn, who were the starting flankers in the 30-13 win over the Cheetahs at Newlands, are likely to start again, while the fit-again Jaco Coetzee, who has been sidelined with concussion in recent weeks, could also make an appearance, Hlungwani said.
"Jaco Coetzee has also been training really hard and is looking good. He also potentially might make the team this weekend.”
A Newlands homecoming for ex-Stormers forwards coach Russell Winter on Saturday: “We have been inconsistent in the scrums. But all the packs are so well conditioned, and the Stormers are probably the leaders.” @IOLsport #Bulls #WPvBUL #CurrieCup https://t.co/T845VgcJuk— Ashfak Mohamed (@ashfakmohamed) November 24, 2020
Province currently trail the Bulls - who are in top spot - by four points (points were carried over from the Super Rugby Unlocked competition).
Hlungwani added that they've put the 39-6 hammering suffered at the hands of the Bulls in Pretoria at Loftus behind them.
"There's a few things that we feel we've improved since we played them. We've moved on from that loss and we've focused hard on getting better."
"It's always a great privilege to be wearing the blue and white hoops, the boys are looking forward to it and we're looking forward to playing at Newlands."
The match will kick off at 7pm at Newlands on Saturday.