Etzebeth fitness worries
The Stormers camp will be anxiously awaiting news on Eben Etzebeth who suffered an ankle sprain in the Stormers' warm-up match against Boland at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
In just over two years Etzebeth has blossomed into one of the country's most prized players and the immediate concern for the Cape franchise is that their star lock may not be fit to play in the 2013 pipe-opener at Loftus Versfeld in a fortnight's time.
Etzebeth landed awkwardly after a line-out take and was forced to retire from the action. He limped off gingerly with an ankle injury and the sight was disconcerting for the Stormers' brains trust.
"I have to admit I am a bit nervous about Eben's condition, and I am preparing for the worst," said Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.
"He'll go for scans on Sunday and then we'll know the extent of the damage.
The Etzebeth injury overshadowed the Stormers' excellent performance in which there were many positive signs although Coetzee will be the first to acknowledge that his side is not as sharp as they should be, especially since so many scoring chances were left out on the field after their nine-try 57-0 triumph.
"There were signs of rust but so many players put in really excellent performances," said Coetzee, who felt particularly heartened by the display of flank Rynhardt Elstadt.
"He does not hold back at all. He was firing at 120 miles per hour and that's good should Eben not be able to make it for the first game. There are options at four (lock) with Michael Rhodes, Deon Fourie going to six, Duane Vermeulen playing at eight and Martin Bezuidenhout starting at two. It's pleasing to know that in the event of Etzebeth being out we have got the depth in the pack."
Flank Siya Kolisi produced a workmanlike performance and was rewarded with three tries, two of which came about because of linking up well in broken play situation.
One area for concern was the poor place-kicking of flyhalf Kurt Coleman, who fluffed two goalable kicks, including one in front of the posts. The Lions recruit Elton Jantjies returns from compassionate leave on Monday and is expected to be the first choice for the No 10 slot against the Bulls.
Jantjies is a reliable kicker but Coetzee said that fullback Joe Pietersen was the team's first-choice place-kicker.
Over the next two weeks, Coetzee plans to have his players running out against the WP Vodacom Cup squad at their practices and on occasions will have referees working shortened practice matches.
Fullback Jaco Taute has fitted in well at the Stormers since his move from the Lions and together with wings Bryan Habana and Gio Aplon they are shaping up as a formidable strike force whenever space is on offer.