CAPE TOWN – When it rains, it pours. At the moment, few in South African rugby would utter that phrase with more frustration than the Stormers.
The possibility that Eben Etzebeth might miss the Stormers’ remaining Super Rugby season is yet another blow for the side.
Both Etzebeth and Cobus Wiese were added to the Stormers’ injury list during their 41-22 loss to the Lions at the weekend, a result which enabled the Lions to leapfrog both the Stormers and Sharks in the South African conference.
With captain Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit already on the sidelines, the Stormers’ injury situation is bad, and it’s escalated to crisis mode at the worst possible time.
And a loss to the Lions didn’t do their quarter-final hopes any favours.
Full-time in Joburg where the DHL Stormers have gone down 41-22 and suffered a few more key injuries against the Emirates Lions. We go again against Sunwolves at DHL Newlands next week. #LIOvSTO— DHL STORMERS (@THESTORMERS) June 1, 2019
It took the Lions a while to shift into gear at Ellis Park last Saturday, but when they did, it became clear that the injury-hit Stormers would have a tough time coming back. One area that was much-anticipated ahead of the local derby was the breakdown.
With Malcolm Marx, Kwagga Smith and Marnus Schoeman the Lions’ well-documented breakdown weapons, the Stormers’ Jaco Coetzee had steadily come to the fore on the deck for the Cape team.
It was one area where the Lions - defensively - gave the Stormers some problems, succeeding in slowing down their ball a number of times.
Defensively, in general, the Stormers let themselves down, and while they are in a tough position in terms of their injury situation, their efforts on defence will surely be one area they will want to fix ahead of their meeting with the Sunwolves at Newlands this Saturday (5.15pm kickoff).
The Stormers were already under play-off pressure before the Ellis Park fixture kicked off, and with only two games remaining, against the Sunwolves and Sharks, coach Robbie Fleck believes it’s far from over for his team.
“We aren’t finished yet. Obviously, I am disappointed with the loss, but we were in it and did well to fight back in the first half. There were just too many disruptions to our team, too many injuries and that affected the way we played,” Fleck said.
“We can still make the playoffs, and we will have to regroup on Monday. There were too many turnovers which led to some excellent tries for them and also too many missed tackles at the end of the day.”
Fleck did, however, highlight the extent of their injury concerns, and added that they are going to have to look to their younger players.
“It is not just Siya, the injury list is long. There are some big-name players we are missing... Pieter-Steph, Eben potentially broke his hand, Cobus Wiese did his hamstring. We are really going to have to bring some youngsters through now and see how they go,” Fleck said.
Etzebeth went for a scan on Saturday night, while the recovery period for Kolisi’s knee injury hasn’t been confirmed.@WynonaLouw