Eben out for months

2013-11-29 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The Stormers will again start their Super Rugby campaign next year without the Springbok Eben Etzebeth.

The 22-year-old will have his foot on the surgeon’s table on Monday and the operation will put him out of action for about six months — the bigger part of the Super Rugby season.

He suffered a serious injury to his foot on Saturday in the match against France in Paris, which the South Africans won 19-10.

Etzebeth, who is nominated as one of the International Rugby Board’s Players of the Year, limped off the field in the 16th minute and later watched the rest of the game from the bench with his

foot tightly bandaged.

His absence will leave a big gap in the Cape Town team’s engine room, said coach Allister Coetzee yesterday.

Gerbrandt Grobler (ankle) will also be on the sidelines.

Coetzee said while it was very sad to start a second Super Rugby season without Etzebeth, his absence did open the door to other players “to raise their hands and grab the chance”.

These include players like De Kock Steenkamp, Michael Rhodes and Rynhardt Elstadt, who between them have heaps of Super Rugby experience.

The Argentinian lock Manuel Carizza also joins the Stormers in January to offer Coetzee another option.

The Cape Town side also have a lot of depth with young players like Tazz Fuzani, Ruan Botha and Jean Kleyn, who can be called on if needed.

Etzebeth suffered an ankle injury early this year in the Super Rugby season during a warm-up match against the Boland Cavaliers.

He only returned to the pitch in May against the Blues in Albany.

Meanwhile, Springbok and Stormers centre Juan de Jongh is also ready to play his best during the upcoming Super Rugby season to catch the eye of the Bok selectors.

De Jongh had also suffered a series of injuries at important junctures this year, but he said he is looking forward to give his best in the pre-season practices.

The centre said he expected tough competition for a place in the starting backline for the Stormers and he will have to be at his best to make the team selection.

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