CAPE TOWN – Super Rugby hasn’t even started yet and the Stormers have already had a couple of injuries to keep tabs on, but luckily for them, tighthead prop won’t be one of those injury concerns.
At a press conference at Newlands on Thursday, where Stormers coach Robbie Fleck announced his 47-man Super Rugby squad, he confirmed that the hip flexor injury that Springbok Wilco Louw picked up against the Bulls in Wellington last week won’t keep him out of their tournament opener against the Jaguares at Newlands on February 17.
It turns out that the niggle that had Louw looking quite uncomfortable (and Fleck visibly concerned) was an abductor strain, and the young front-rower should be back in training on Monday.
“It seems like it was just an abductor strain, he was in a lot of pain and he went for scans, but fortunately for us, it looks like he’ll be back in full training on Monday,” Fleck said.
“We’ve been pretty unlucky with injuries, but Wilco, Siya (Kolisi), Pieter-Steph (du Toit), Chris van Zyl and Jaco Coetzee – all the guys who looked a bit dodge post the Boland game – are all looking fit for next week.”
Following their 26-26 draw against Boland, Fleck said that he would in all likelihood look outside of the region for a replacement tighthead to stand in for Louw.
And although Louw won’t be missing the game against the Argentines, Fleck said that he has brought in 22-year-old Gunther Janse van Vuuren from the Cheetahs and Neethling Fouché.
“We brought in a young kid from the Cheetahs and he came in today for his first session today, his name is Gunther Janse van Vuuren.
“We also brought in Neethling Fouché, who’s on a dual contract with us and Maties. We had a good look at him, and he’s been performing well for Maties,” he said.
Regarding Bok prop Frans Malherbe’s neck injury, Fleck said: “We really are pushing Frans hard to be fit, and hopefully he returns a bit earlier.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that Wilco and Carlü Sadie – who I thought had a very good game against the Bulls in that heat – go well.”
Meanwhile, Fleck might want to improve on a few things in their game this season, but one method he’s found good enough to continue with is his captaincy.
The Stormers coach announced that Siya Kolisi would continue in the leadership role he had last year, while Eben Etzebeth will again support Kolisi as the vice-captain.
Of the 47 players in the squad, there are nine who will not be available to face the Jaguares next Saturday.
Etzebeth (shoulder), SP Marais (toe), Scarra Ntubeni (hamstring), Alistair Vermaak (hamstring), Jano Vermaak (knee), Jean-Luc du Plessis (groin), Dan du Plessis (shoulder), Malherbe (neck) and Juarno Augustus (back) will not be available for the opening match.
Juarno Augustus, Craig Barry, Nizaam Carr, Jaco Coetzee, Damian de Allende, Jan de Klerk, Paul de Wet, Stephan de Wit, Dan du Plessis, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Johan du Toit, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Dewaldt Duvenage, JJ Engelbrecht, Eben Etzebeth, Neethling Fouché, Jacobus Janse van Rensburg, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi (captain), Dan Kriel, Dillyn Leyds, Wilco Louw.
Frans Malherbe, SP Marais, Bongi Mbonambi, Salmaan Moerat, Dean Muir, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Siyabonga Ntubeni, Caylib Oosthuizen, Sergeal Petersen, Justin Phillips, Raymond Rhule, Carlü Sadie, Ramone Samuels, JD Schickerling, Seabelo Senatla, Joshua Stander, Kobus van Dyk, Chris van Zyl, Alistair Vermaak, Jano Vermaak, EW Viljoen, George Whitehead, Cobus Wiese, Damian Willemse, Eddie Zandberg.