Super Rugby

Kolbe to answer Stormers' flyhalf woes

Cape Town - It's been a tough old week for the Stormers. 

First colossal lock Eben Etzebeth broke down on Monday with a calf strain that will keep him out for at least four weeks, and then on Tuesday Kurt Coleman did his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) at training. 

Despite Etzebeth being one of the most important figures in the Stormers squad, losing Coleman for the season seems the biggest blow. 

Robert du Preez (knee), who started the season at flyhalf, is out until after the June Test matches while Dillyn Leyds (knee) - another option at playmaker - is out for the season. 

Now that Coleman has joined that injury list, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has had to dig deep into the flyhalf barrel at Newlands. 

Jean-Luc du Plessis - son of Springbok legend Carel - is up next, but the 21-year-old has played just 33 minutes of Super Rugby. 

Du Plessis will start at No 10 against the Sunwolves in Cape Town on Friday, but a quick glance across the team sheet at Wednesday's announcement revealed no clear cover at flyhalf. 

That, Fleck confirmed, will come from Cheslin Kolbe. 

Fleck has spoken about his desire to get the Stormers fullback into the first receiver position more this season but now, with the stocks depleted, Kolbe might find himself there a lot more than anticipated. 

Huw Jones, meanwhile, will provide the fullback cover off the bench. 

"It's probably quite exciting for a lot of people," Fleck said of the decision to use Kolbe at flyhalf.

"Those two injuries to Dillyn Leyds and Kurt Coleman are big injuries ... season-ending injuries and they were both considered as flyhalf cover for us.

"He's (Kolbe) done a bit of playmaking stuff for the sevens ... different game, but I know he can do it.

"As a 15 he comes into the first receiver a huge amount. He's got the qualities to play 10 ... he's certainly got the passing game and the kicking game but he just needs to have that control.

"He's got magic feet, speed ... he'll be a real threat in that first channel."

Fleck would not refer to the current flyhalf situation as a "crisis", and was instead optimistic about the opportunities they were presenting. 

"I'm absolutely positive and excited. I think it's a great opportunity for youngsters to come through an I look at this team and the feeling I get is positive," he said.

Du Plessis is one player that Fleck has rated highly in the past, and he had more encouraging words on Wednesday.

"I do rate him (Du Plessis) and it was just a matter of time before he was going to get a start," said Fleck.

"He's a complete footballer and that's what I'm really looking at. I felt that Kurt was doing well, he was building confidence ... I feel for him.

"But this is an opportunity for a youngster to really stake a claim. He's got a good rugby brain. He likes to organise things and to take charge and that's what you want in a flyhalf."

Fleck also confirmed that the Stormers would not look to recruit a flyhalf from outside of the union at this stage of the season. 

"We will invest in our youth and what we've got here at Western Province at the Stormers," he said.

Kick-off on Friday is at 19:00.



15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Oli Kebble

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 19 Rynhardt Elstadt, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Huw Jones, 23 Damian de Allende