Star under the knife, as Stormers 'phase in' Boks
MEDICAL UPDATE: The Stormers paid a dear price for Irish international Bundee Aki’s vicious and illegal cleanout of star back Seabelo Senatla’s injury.
Senatla, 29, underwent surgery on Wednesday for a ‘torn biceps’ muscle – the result of the Irish veteran’s act of foul play.
Aki, who was red-carded for the incident in the 60th minute of the Stormers’ 38-15 win over Connacht in Stellenbosch this past weekend, will learn the length of his ban at a URC disciplinary hearing.
Given his suboptimal disciplinary record – which includes red cards in the World Cup and Six Nations – there is every chance Aki could miss Ireland’s year-end campaign.
However, Senatla has already leant that be sidelined for ‘many months’.
Stormers coach John Dobson delivered the devastating news at a media briefing on Wednesday.
“It is unfortunate,” Dobson said of Senatla’s surgery and lay-off, adding: “It is especially tough, given how it happened.”
Young Suleiman Hartzenberg is the most likely replacement.
“Suleiman [Hartzenberg] we could move [to the wing].
“He is deceptively fast.”
* (Article continues below the video of the Aki red card …)
The other good news is that new signing Alapati Leiua could make his debut and Leolin Zas has returned to full training this week.
However, Zas is likely to be held back another week.
Dobson said that the length of his time out – the inaugural URC season’s top try-scorer has been sidelined since undergoing ankle surgery in June – means Zas is unlikely to be risked against Edinburgh in Cape Town on Saturday.
“I am not sure whether we will choose Zas this week,” the coach said, adding: “If we really got ourselves into trouble, we could select him.
“He will definitely be available next week.
“It has been quite a long layoff for him, so we will probably give him another week. It’s the right thing to do.”
* Meanwhile, Dobson said he will be ‘phasing in’ his Springboks over the next five weeks.
“The two props we must rest,” he said of Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, adding that “the rest are all available”.
“We have a challenge with the resting [of the Springboks],” the coach said – adding that they had travelled around the world, from South Africa, to Australia, to Argentina and back to South Africa.
Damian Willemse is still going through his ‘return to play’ protocols, after suffering a concussion in the first Test against Argentina earlier this month, and might be available to play.