Cape Town - The Stormers are set to start their 2018 Super Rugby campaign without the services of inspirational lock, Eben Etzebeth.
According to reports, the Springbok second-rower is set to be sidelined until at least May due to a combination of shoulder and back injuries.
In his last appearance, Etzebeth was forced off the field just before half-time in the Boks' 2017 end-of-year Test against Wales in Cardiff after he sustained a nerve injury that caused severe pain in his left shoulder.
The Stormers open their Super Rugby season on Saturday, February 17 against the Jaguares at Newlands.
Should the layoff estimates prove accurate, Etzebeth will miss at least 10 matches and will be in a race to prove his fitness for the Boks' three-Test series against England in early June.