CAPE TOWN – Will Springbok tighthead prop Frans Malherbe get a run against the Sharks this weekend?
With a number of players returning from injury, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck will have a few more options to choose from for their big game against the Sharks. Marlherbe is one of those options, although his limited game time will certainly play a role in Fleck’s decision.
The front-rower is fit and available after struggling with a neck injury. Earlier this week, Stormers assistant coach Paul Feeney confirmed that Malherbe, wing JJ Engelbrecht, centre Dan Kriel and scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage are all fit and available for the round 10 clash, while flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis will get some game time with Western Province this weekend.
Now the fixture at Kings Park is important for both teams - the Sharks will want to bounce back after their humbling result against the Bulls, while the Stormers will be hunting a victory to put their away-game demons to sleep after losing all five of their away-from-Newlands encounters this season.
“We’ve got a few players back at training, so that’s promising,” the coach in charge of the Stormers’ unstructured attack and defence said.
“There are players back who obviously haven’t played yet, so some of them will play for John Dobson. We’ve got a few more players to choose from, so that’s good.
“Jean-Luc du Plessis needs a week with John Dobson (Rugby Challenge), but we’ll have JJ Engelbrecht, Dan Kriel and Dewaldt Duvenage. It’s a good time to welcome back some people. Frans is good to go. We’ll still be assessing Cobus Wiese in the next few days.”
“We have been a bit short on numbers at times. So we’re in a better spot than we were two weeks ago.”
With Malherbe returning from a lengthy spell on the sidelines and Kriel also having been out of action for a while, easing them in is surely the way Fleck will go. But having some backup going forward is certainly a boost for the injury-plagued Stormers.
After Paul de Wet’s try-scoring outing in the Stormers’ last match before their bye (against the Lions at Ellis Park), alarm bells aren’t going off at No 9. And with Justin Phillips being injured, there’s Jano Vermaak, De wet and now Duvenage, with Vermaak most likely to continue against the Sharks.
In terms of the outside backs, former Bok wing Engelbrecht showed what he can bring to the Cape side before he got injured, but his absence has also given Craig Barry a chance to impress ... which he has done times 10.
The Stormers backline isn’t one that needs a lot of chopping and changing, but perhaps a starting berth at fullback for Dillyn Leyds would put many “how would he go with a bit of consistency” questions to bed.
Not that those questions can really be asked - he’s shown his worth, but seeing him have an extended go at No 15 would be great.