However, rugby can be a cruel mistress some times and one the coach Allister Coetzee knows all too well. Think back to last year when the Stormers had to play much of the season without the services of 8 front line forwards including Springboks Schalk Burger, Tiaan Liebenberg, Andries Bekker and Duane Vermeulen.
The team was top of the log after an exceptional year but the desistation of injury made sure that Ceotzee could not rotate and rest key players meaning by the time they hosted the Sharks in the Semi-finals, they were exhausted.
This season is a complete opposite for Coetzee, they have started badly, beginning the season with two inter-conference losses that could very well have been won. Sure they bounced back at home when they beat the champion Chiefs and table topping Brumbies at home, but then an error riddled performance against the Crusaders showed their supporters that this season may just get out of hand very early on.
Now as they prepare to travel to Bloemfontein to take on the high flying Cheetahs, coach Coetzee has to deal with yet another string of injuries to his players. Not what the Newlands faithful wanted to hear at all.
Winger Gerard van der Heever, who has impressed since taking over from an injured Brian Habana damaged his knee in the dying seconds of last weeks match and will be out for at least two weeks. The ever working flank Rynhardt Elstadt has injured his shoulder and his replacement Don Armand his ribs, both will join Van der Heever on the sidelines for 2 weeks.
They join Springbok’s Schalk Burger, Brian Habana, Tiaan Leibenberg , Peter Grant and promising young hooker Scarra Ntumebi on the injured reserves list.
Under performing Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies, as well as his fellow internationals Juan de Jongh and Pat Cilliers are all nursing minor injuries and have sat out training so far this week. They are expected to play on Saturday, but this disruption will not be good for preparations.
“The Crusaders match has left us without the services of at least three players, but we have (prop Steven) Kitshoff coming back, One of the good things for us this week is that Michael Rhodes is back after a couple of outings for the (WP) Vodacom Cup team. Don Armand has a rib injury muscle and (lock) Gerbrandt Grobler has been training with the squad so he’s ready to step in.” Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee told reporters in Cape Town on Monday.
Coetzee added that the team have learned a lot from their lost the Crusaders last week.
“We’ve seen how well the Crusaders did their homework and we know that we can expect the same from the Cheetahs this week, The Crusaders have learnt to put all teams under pressure. Despite our lapse, our players will continue to back themselves, which is pleasing because the confidence is still there. After we lost our first line-out it became increasingly difficult to get a hold on the game because our execution (at the set-piece) was not sharp at all.”
After a shocking display from Deon Fourie in the line outs last week, Coetzee admitted that he has little choice in terms of changes at the moment and that they will get back to basics next week.
“I was pleased with the way Pat scrummed, His work rate was right up there, and he was impressive against a quality team. Elton made a few knock-ons, but his out-of-hand kicking was still good,” said Coetzee. In the context of the game, his job was mainly to kick. It was tough on him because we hardly had any ball to play with. This week we’ll have show improvement in all facets of the game if we want to do well against the Cheetahs.” Concluded Coetzee
The Stormers travel to Bloemfontein to take on the Cheetahs on Saturday, KO 17:05 CAT (16:05 GMT)