Etzebeth to miss big Bloem battle
Rynhardt Elstadt will be back to add some of the physicality that appeared to be missing from the win against the Lions, but Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth will still be missing from the Stormers team that plays a crucial Super Rugby match against the Cheetahs on Saturday.
The Stormers can almost assure themselves of the South African conference title for the second successive year if they win, and both coach Allister Coetzee and captain Jean de Villiers have already stressed the importance of the game.
But Coetzee said that with the possibility of play-off matches looming in his team’s future, it would not be wise to risk players who had injury concerns.
“We have decided that Eben will definitely sit out Saturday’s game but the good news is that he should be available after that as he has shown improvement in his ankle, and the tests he did today showed he was 30% better than he was so we are encouraged by that,” said Coetzee.
Elstadt sat out the Lions match through suspension and according to Coetzee he is eager to get back into the thick of things against the Cheetahs.
“Rynhardt is fit and ready, and so is Joe Pietersen, who trained with us today (Monday). Bryan Habana still sat out but he will be fit for Saturday.
"We also had Steven Kitshoff working hard in training. There were other players, such as Peter Grant and Gio Aplon, who sat out today, but that is part of my plan to manage individual players when they need it.
“The only concern we have at the moment in terms of a player sitting out with an ailment is centre Juan de Jongh. He has come down with the flu so he was confined to bed today. Hopefully he will be back later in the week. We will give him until Wednesday. I hope he makes it because he was very good against the Lions last week.”
Marcel Brache was impressive in slotting into the midfield when Danie Poolman was forced off against the Lions, and the good news is that the chest injury he was struggling with after the game has been diagnosed as nothing more serious than chest bruising. He didn’t train on Monday but might well be back by Wednesday.
“The thing is that if Bryan and Joe are back and Juan recovers like we hope he will, we won’t need Marcel,” said Coetzee.
“Remember we also have JP du Plessis, who is a No 13, and if Juan is ruled out that is what we will need, an outside centre.”
Coetzee hinted that the experiment of playing Siya Kolisi at No 8 will not be continued into the Bloemfontein game.
“Siya didn’t look as comfortable at No 8 as he did on the flank. It’s probably a case of him getting used to No 6 and where a No 6 has to be at every given moment. So we are giving consideration to returning him to openside flank, where he has been good for us this year, and playing Jebb Sinclair at No 8.”
Coetzee was reluctant to play Sinclair in the starting team last week as at this moment he won’t be available for the knock-outs, but Coetzee disclosed on Monday that he is attempting to have that changed.
“In an emergency teams are allowed special dispensation to field players in the knock-outs that weren’t on their books at the start of the season, and with doubt over whether Schalk Burger or Duane Vermeulen will be back, and with two other No 8s in Nizaam Carr and Nick Koster also out, and Nick Fenton-Wells gone overseas, we feel we have grounds to ask if Jebb can stay with us.
“I have asked Rob Wagner (Stormers MD) to make the necessary enquiries and start the procedure of getting Jebb okayed to play for us in the knock-out phases.”