John Dobson has Stormers on a hard Covid-19 lockdown
CAPE TOWN –Stormers coach John Dobson says they’re worried about the increase in Covid-19 cases among South African teams.
The Super Rugby “Unlocked” match between the Lions and Cheetahs, scheduled for Ellis Park on Saturday, was called off in line with Covid-19 protocols after two more Lions players (which brought the total to 11 in the squad) tested positive.
“We are very worried,” he said. “We had a strict and strong talk with the players today about their lives outside the high-performance centre.
“We can control what happens here, but can’t really control what happens outside. So we said among ourselves that we are on a level four (lockdown). It is home, shop and no socialising.
“Unfortunately, the Cheetahs – they may reschedule the game – may have lost two points by factors outside their control. The Lions, through Covid, may have potentially lost a home win. We want to do our best to avoid us being in that same position.
“It is a threat to this tournament that some big game is going to come down to a Covid situation. We have got to control it as best we can. The authorities are handling it really, really well. But it is clear now that this could impact on the integrity of the competition.”
While it is alarming, the impact of the pandemic on the integrity of the domestic competition isn’t the only thing Dobson and co might have reason to be concerned about.
Stormers skipper Siya Kolisi’s injury prognosis isn’t as bad as initially expected but the Stormers are now thin in the loose-forward department, with Dobson also confirming Pieter-Steph du Toit won’t be back on the field this year.
Kolisi left the field with a hamstring injury after being cleaned out at a ruck in their comeback win against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday.
While Dobson said Kolisi wouldn’t be out for too long (two to three weeks: grade one hamstring tear), it’s the little backup they have on the bench that could be a worry, especially considering the Stormers’ trip to Loftus and the quality of the Bulls’ loose forwards.
Nama Xaba, who replaced Kolisi, is also a concern after injuring his ankle at the weekend.
“He went for a scan at lunch time and I don’t have he results yet, he went over his ankle, so he might be out, and to lose both him and Siya would be a blow,” Dobson said.
“The options now are Jaco Coetzee, who I thought did really well when he came on. He’s got a big game and a massive future.
"Then we’ve got a couple of Under-21 guys who can come in. Johan du Toit is still injured as well.”
Du Toit sustained a haematoma in February, which developed into acute compartment syndrome.
“At this stage it doesn’t seem like he is going to play again this year,” Dobson said.
On a positive note, Dobson said Springbok props Steven Kitshoff and Scarra Ntubeni, who were withdrawn from the Pumas game after they had come into contact with a player who tested positive for Covid-19, would be available for the Loftus game after self-isolating as per SA Rugby’s protocols.
“Kitsie and Scarra can train on Wednesday, I’m sure, so they’ll be playing in the weekend. Damian Willemse (who missed out on the weekend’s match as he didn’t recover from a minor injury in time) is also fine.
"Seabelo (Senatla) and Ruhan (Nel) are training again, they’re probably only a week off from being ready, maybe two weeks. Sergeal (Petersen) has about four weeks to go.”