CAPE TOWN – After being blitzed by Rosko Specman last Saturday, the Stormers will have to wait another week before their own former Springbok Sevens superstar Seabelo Senatla can provide an injection of much-needed energy.
Specman made an audacious Super Rugby debut at Loftus, hot-stepping his way to two tries that powered the Bulls to a bonus-point victory.
Although the Stormers also handed Specman’s former Blitzbok teammate Ruhan Nel a first start in Super Rugby at Loftus, the lanky outside centre was tame in comparison. It was therefore hoped that Senatla could possibly bring a similar “X-factor” to the Stormers backline for this week’s clash against the Lions at Newlands (5.15pm kickoff).
Senatla, though, cut a frustrated figure at training yesterday, with the flying wing forced only to look on as his teammates were put through their paces at a sweltering Bellville.
“It doesn’t look like he (Senatla) is going to make it for this weekend. He dislocated his finger at the Marvel day, so it doesn’t look like he will be ready,” backline coach Dawie Snyman said yesterday.
“The Sevens guys play in those circumstances where they have a bit more space. And if you give them half a gap, they will be gone. And if you give a guy like Rosko an opportunity he will finish.
It was unfortunate that we couldn’t give our players who have that ability like a Dillyn Leyds into space. We need to bounce back. It is still early days in the competition, but we need to rectify many areas and we need to do it this Saturday.”
A further setback for the ailing Stormers is the delayed return of Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth. The Stormers desperately need their senior core to step up and virtually haul the younger players along with them if they are going to turn their season around.
It may only be just one game into the new Super Rugby season, but such was the calamity up in South Africa’s capital that character has to be shown for the Lions will be no easy ride on Saturday. In fact, it is the toughest assignment in SA rugby at present with the Lions losing just one local derby in four years.
Having the powerful Etzebeth on the park would certainly have raised the odds of an upset - because that is what it would be should the Stormers prevail - but the Toulon-bound second rower is not ready just yet.
Equally, the Stormers are still waiting on No 8 Juarno Augustus although fellow utility forward Cobus Wiese, wing Sergeal Petersen and prop Frans Malherbe have recovered from their respective injuries and are available for selection.
“We have got Cobus Wiese back. ‘Trokkie’ (Augustus) we going to give him another day or two,” Snyman said. “Sergeal Petersen is available for selection. But it doesn’t look like Eben is going to make it, and Frans had his first training session today.”
It may not be crisis time just yet, but there is no doubt both the Stormers coaching and playing staff know that nothing less than a much-improved performance is expected before the Newlands faithful on Saturday.@ZaahierAdams