Stormers happy to have key men back for must-win match

2019-04-24 06:02

WITH the big return derby against the Vodacom Bulls looming and the match now a must-win, the DHL Stormers could not have asked for a better time to welcome back Eben­ Etzebeth and JD Schickerling.

The two first-choice locks will be back in full training this week after missing out the past few games because of injury, and coach Robbie Fleck should have no hesitation in calling them into action against the Bulls.

Etzebeth of course is an influential leadership figure, while Schickerling is probably the best of the young locks in the country, and is also a massive presence for the Stormers when he does play. As Fleck says, the timing of the return of the duo could not have been more perfect, for more than just the reason that the Stormers are playing the Bulls this week. Lock is also a position where the Stormers’ depth has been severely tested, and they were fortunate this past weekend against the Brumbies that they had a blindside flank in Pieter-Steph du Toit who could play second row as they lost both starting locks during the course of the game. If both Etzebeth and Schickerling are ready to start against the Bulls, the selection of the pack will be easy.

Frans Malherbe was rested against the Brumbies and should return to join fellow Boks Steven Kitshoff and Bongi Mbonambi in the front row, with Etzebeth and Schickerling completing a formidable tight five.

Meanwhile, ACT Brumbies loose forward David Pocock is heading for more time on the sidelines after being sent home from SA to continue his recovery from a calf injury that has kept him out since early March. The 30-year-old sustained the injury in a pre-season Wallabies camp and aggravated it in their third match of the Super Rugby season Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said.

Pocock has barely played at all this season after he suffered a concussion in the opening game and missed the Brumbies’ next match. While his lack of game time was a concern for the Brumbies, who produced a superb defensive effort on Saturday when they made 224 tackles to beat the Stormers 19-17, McKellar said he would not be rushing Pocock back. — Reuters.

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