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VIDEO: Stormers talisman in race to face French giants

Deon André Fourie, a talisman for the Stormers, is in a race against time to be fit for the Champions Cup Round of 16 encounter with French giants Sade Rochelais in Cape Town early next month.

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Fourie was not named in the team for the 43-21 Round 12 United Rugby Championship win against Edinburgh on Saturday – Nama Xaba starting in a like-for-like replacement.

Xaba, in only his fourth URC appearance, had an admirable hour on the park – winning a couple of crucial turnovers, although he also looked rusty.

He is not a bad replacement and did not let the team down.

However, Fourie’s value to the Cape Town-based franchise can never be underestimated – especially the experience of the World Cup winner on the big stage.

It was initially stated that Fourie had a ‘minor’ injury.

However, Stormers coach John Dobson confirmed the 37-year-old suffered an intercostal muscle rib injury in the 22-40 Round 11 loss to the Bulls before the last of the Six Nation pauses in the URC season.

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“He should be back for La Rochelle,” he said of the Round of 16 outing on April 6.

However, Dobson quickly qualified that statement with a “it is not certain”.

Dobson admitted it is a six-week injury, leaving the 13-times capped in a race against time.

(WATCH as Stormers coach John Dobson gives an update on the status of injured utility star Deon Fourie ahead of a crucial European outing….)

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Stade Rochelais, despite a one-point (20-21) loss in Cape Town in a Champions Cup Round Two encounter back in December, will provide the Stormers with their biggest challenge of the season.

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The French team will be boosted by the return of veteran France centre Jonathan Danty – who was slapped with five-week suspension following his red card in France’s 13-all draw with Italy.

Danty was sin-binned in the final seconds of the first half for a dangerous head-on-head tackle on Italy’s Juan Ignacio Brex and his yellow card was upgraded to a red after a bunker review.

The disciplinary committee concluded that the incident warranted a six-week suspension and although it was reduced by two weeks due to Danty’s acknowledgement of guilt and apology, a further week was added because he served a two-week suspension for a red card playing for his club in December.

The 31-year-old missed France’s trip to Wales and their home game against England in Lyon, plus Stade Rochelais’ TOP 14 matches versus Bayonne and Oyonnax.

However, he is available for their Champions Cup Round of 16 tie against the Stormers in Cape Town after he attended World Rugby’s ‘tackle school’.

Also, their tight forwards will pose a significant threat – with the gargantuan props Uini Atonio (145kg), Georges-Henri Colombe (133kg) and Joel Sclavi (130kg) giving the visitors the type of bulk that will trouble any team.

@king365ed
@rugby365com

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