Injury to insult for Stormers
De Kock Steenkamp has become the Stormers latest casualty, as the struggling team's second row resources are stretched to the limit.
Steenkamp suffered groin injury in his team's 20-36 loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday – a result that saw the men from Cape Town drop to second from last on the standings, just above the winless Hurricanes.
The lock is the biggest concern for Stormers coach Allister Coetzee, who has seen his team lose three of their four games, with the only win a fluky last-minute one-point squeaker over the Hurricanes.
Fellow lock Ruan Botha (knee), captain Jean de Villiers (knock to shoulder) and fullback Jaco Taute (AC Joint) were also nursing injuries.
"De Kock is definitely the biggest concern for us at this stage," Coetzee said of Steenkamp.
"Jaco felt his shoulder a bit and went off, Jean took a small knock and Ruan complained about his knee after the game.
"We have a travel day on Saturday, we are flying to Australia [Sydney], and once we are there will be able to properly assess our injuries after they go for scans."
Lock Rynhardt Elstadt, hooker Scarra Ntubeni and prop Pat Cilliers have all flown home from the tour because of injuries thus far – joining high-profile players Eben Etzebeth, Manuel Carizza, Michael Rhodes, Juan de Jongh and Cheslin Kolbe on the sidelines.
Meanwhile the Stormers coach, Coetzee, was left lamenting his team's slow start against the Chiefs.
The Chiefs led by 17-6 at half-time, and 24-6 three minutes into the second half, before the Stormers launched a spirited fightback to make it 20-24 going into the final four minutes of play.
Unfortunately the struggling Stormers they were not able to sustain that pressure and two late Chiefs tries saw them miss out on a losing bonus point as well.
"It's another disappointing loss for us," lamented Coetzee.
"We started off badly, but credit to the Chiefs. They attacked us [out] wide and we felt the pressure there and came out of our line a few times, which proved to be costly. Last week the Crusaders attacked us from close-range, but the Chiefs found the necessary space out wide in this game."
The Chiefs scored two tries in the first half and three in the second half, two of those second-half efforts coming in the last four minutes of the game.
"They're not the double defending champions for nothing, you know," added Coetzee.
The Stormers will travel to Sydney on Saturday, where they will be based in the lead-up to next weekend's game against the Brumbies in Canberra.
They will then finish their tough four-match tour with a final fixture against the Reds in Brisbane the following Saturday.
Said Coetzee: "We've had a tough tour of New Zealand against two quality teams – the Crusaders and the Chiefs. We will now close the chapter on the New Zealand leg of our tour and are looking ahead to our remaining games in Australia. We're beaten, but unbowed.
"The one big positive is that we have eight days until our next game [against the Brumbies], so we will lick our wounds and get up for that game," added the Stormers boss.