CAPE TOWN – While the Stormers have been dealt another couple of injury blows after their match against the Crusaders, they will be boosted by the return of Damian Willemse for their match against the Highlanders.
The pivot sustained a haematoma against the Waratahs two weeks ago, and in his absence against the Crusaders, Dillyn Leyds started at flyhalf, while SP Marais ran out at fullback in Christchurch.
Having Willemse, a natural No 10, back in the flyhalf jersey will be a great addition to the Stormers’ arsenal.
Although it didn’t always result in much, Willemse looked threatening on attack against the Australians in Sydney, and his attacking presence was missed as soon as he left the field about halfway through the contest. But now he’s available for the clash against the Highlanders, and it’s a boost that can only help the Cape side.
With the Paul Roos Gymnasium product’s ability, he can keep the opposition guessing on attack, while his magical feet and X-factor also comes with solid defence.
And while the Stormers have Willemse back, they have been dealt a couple of other injury blows. Former SA Schools captain and lock Salmaan Moerat will join the squad for the final match of their tour as replacement for JD Schickerling after the hard-working second-rower picked up a shoulder injury against the Crusaders.
Pieter-Steph du Toit, who left the field after a knock to the head at the weekend, passed his concussion test and will continue the return-to-play protocol over the next five days.
Loose forward Cobus Wiese - who was one of the top performers against the Crusaders - and hooker Ramone Samuels sustained minor shoulder injuries which will be assessed further today.
On Saturday, the Stormers looked as if they were in for another 50-plus hammering in the first quarter after they were 26-0 down, but they put up a good fight in the third quarter of their second match on tour to Australasia and scored three more tries to end the game on 45-28.
In terms of the other backs, the Stormers can also be pleased with inside centre Damain de Allende’s contributions over the last two weeks, especially with what he produced in Christchurch - big carries, good support play, stepping and getting over the gain line. Maybe it’s the start of his return to top form?
Seabelo Senatla also looked promising on the wing, while as a unit, the backline looked better than what they did against the Tahs, although it would be the forwards who’d bag the award for the greater contribution in that game.
And the improvement the Stormers showed against the defending champions should also give them a bit of confidence going into this weekend’s match.
The Stormers will take on the Highlanders in their last match on tour on Friday (8.35am kickoff).