The Stormers desperately need to break their tour duck against the Reds in Brisbane on Friday, but they will have to do it without Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit.
The Springbok duo have been ruled out of the clash at the Suncorp Stadium due to injury and personal leave respectively, which will leave a gigantic hole in the pack of forwards.
Both big men made sizable contributions to the Stormers cause in the 24-9 defeat to the Blues in Auckland at the weekend, and coach Robbie Fleck would’ve hoped that their grunt would be enough to overwhelm the Reds.
But Etzebeth has been sidelined by an ankle injury, and he has travelled home alongside Du Toit and centre Dan du Plessis.
Du Toit is expecting the birth of his first child this week, while Du Plessis took a blow to the knee at Eden Park, which saw him replaced by Josh Stander.
Ironically, Du Toit will be replaced by his younger brother Johan in the tour squad, and Ernst van Rhyn will come in for Etzebeth.
In an exciting development, former Blitzboks superstar Seabelo Senatla has been called up for Du Plessis, and he certainly has the ability to bring some spark to a Stormers backline that battled to finish their chances against the Blues.
Blues v Stormers| Super Rugby 2019 Rd 7 Highlights— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) March 30, 2019
The @BluesRugbyTeam make it three straight wins after overcoming @THESTORMERS late in the contest to score a tough 24-9 victory over the visitors at Eden Park.#SuperRugby #BLUvSTO pic.twitter.com/gsONJq2l86
Salmaan Moerat should take over from Etzebeth at lock for the Reds clash, while Juarno Augustus may return at No 8, with Jaco Coetzee moving over to flank for Du Toit.
It will be interesting to see if Fleck opts to bring Ruhan Nel as a straight swop for Du Plessis at outside centre, or whether Damian Willemse – who was excellent at fullback against the Blues – is brought in closer to the action in midfield.
The Stormers management added that prop Wilco Louw is nursing an ankle injury, and he will be given until later in the week to prove his readiness.
Wing Seabelo Senatla and utility forwards Johan du Toit and Ernst van Rhyn are flying out to join the DHL Stormers on tour in Australia in place of Pieter-Steph du Toit and the injured Eben Etzebeth (calf) and Dan du Plessis (knee) - https://t.co/r5yyRszQNF #iamastormer— DHL STORMERS (@THESTORMERS) April 1, 2019