It’s not good news for the Stormers, and also not for Rassie Erasmus as he plans his campaign on the road to the Rugby World Cup.
Springboks Damian Willemse en lock Eben Etzebeth have both been declared unfit for Saturday’s match against the Sunwolves. In the case of Willemse, a second opinion will be obtained, according to coach Robbie Fleck, but as it now stands the Springbok fullback/flyhalf will be out of action for four weeks with a knee injury.
Everything going well, he should be available for the first match in the Rugby Championship against Australia on July 20.
Etzebeth, on the other hand, is unlikely to be fit for the first test of the year. Fleck confirmed that Etzebeth will be sidelined for six weeks with a hand injury.
The Stormers will also be without Damian de Allende this weekend, who is rested in accordance with the Springbok resting protocol.
He will be available for next weekend’s match against the Sharks that could be of crucial importance for either side to make the play-offs.
However, the Springboks Siya Kolisi (knee), Pieter-Steph du Toit (shoulder), Sikhumbuzo Notshe will not see action in the Super Rugby competition again this season.
With the above affecting his options, Robbie Fleck made eight changes to the Stormers team ahead of their game against the Sunwolves at Newlands on Saturday.
With Willemse, Etzebeth and Sikhumbuzo Notshe ruled out, De Allende being rested and the normal rotation at tighthead where Wilco Louw is benched and Frans Malherbe returns, Fleck has selected three new players Edwill van der Merwe, David Meihuizen and Chris Massyn in the Super Rugby squad.
Craig Barry replaces Seabelo Senatla on the right wing, Dan Kriel replaces De Allende at inside centre and Van der Merwe starts at left wing, Dillyn Leyds moves to fullback in place of Willemse, and Jean-Luc du Plessis is back as flyhalf with Josh Stander on the bench.
Among the forwards, openside flank Ernst van Rhyn comes into the loose trio with Jaco Coetzee moving from the side of the scrum to No 8.
Chris van Zyl will partner Cobus Wiese in the second row, while in the front row Frans Malherbe and Bongi Mbonambi, returning from injury, replace Louw and Scarra Ntubeni.
15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Craig Barry, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Johan du Toit, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain). Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 David Meihuizen, 20 Chris Massyn, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Josh Stander, 23 EW Viljoen.