AUDIO: Clarity on Du Toit's Stormers position
INTERVIEW: Despite the limited lock resources, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck is not tempted to return season Springbok Pieter-Steph du Toit to the second row.
Fleck, speaking to the media upon his team’s return to South Africa, said Du Toit’s future is on the blindside flank.
The Stormers are coming off their only win of a four-match Australasian tour – where they beat the Aussie conference-leading Rebels 41-24 in Melbourne at the weekend.
That was preceded by defeats against the Hurricanes (28-34)‚ the Blues (9-24) and the Reds (12-24).
This past weekend – in the win in Melbourne – the Stormers started with the lock pairing of Cobus Wiese and Salmaan Moerat.
The tourists lost locks John Schickerling (shoulder injury suffered against the Hurricanes last month), Eben Etzebeth (calf injury on tour) and Chris van Zyl (back injury on) in the past month.
Du Toit missed the last two weeks of the trip to be at his wife’s side for the birth of their first child.
Du Toit and captain Siya Kolisi (rested last week as part of the Springbok protocols) are both available for Saturday’s encounter with the Brumbies.
Despite the injury concerns, Du Toit is unlikely to be considered as a lock.
“The way we see Pieter-Steph – going forward – he is a No.7 [blindside flank] that can cover No.5 [lock],” Fleck told a media scrum as the Stormers stepped up preparations for their Round 10 outing and one of six home matches in the last eight weeks.
“The way that Cobus Wiese is playing at the moment, the opportunities he has had at lock, he has done exceptionally well.
“He had No.5 on his back [against the Rebels], but played like a No.4 lock – cleaning rucks and carrying.
“We wanted to have a look at Cobus Wiese as a No.7 on tour, but it didn’t happen [because of the injuries].
“Going forward, Pieter-Steph is our first-choice No.7.
“Cobus [Wiese] will back him up at No.7, but he is also doing a great job at lock. We just want the simple basics from him and he produced that at the weekend.”
Fleck also confirmed that Jaco Coetzee will only miss two to three weeks – after suffering a knee injury in their win over the Rebels.
“The feedback that I have had, is that it is just a contusion [bruising] on the patella,” Fleck told the media scrum.
“We were thinking that he had fractured his patella [kneecap], which is way more serious. Hopefully, he will be back in the mix in the next two to three weeks.
“He has been outstanding. All three loose forwards were outstanding, with Trokkie [Juarno Augustus] coming off the bench. Jaco will be missed, but the news is better than we first thought.”
Sikhumbuzo Notshe and centre EW Viljoen have also returned to training, after recovering from injuries.
They will feature for Western Province in a pre-season outing in midweek and will most likely only be available for selection for next weekend’s match against the Bulls.
JJ Engelbrecht has also returned to fitness and could start against the Brumbies, while Fleck was less optimistic about Dan du Plessis, who could be out for an extended period with a knee injury.
Herschelle Jantjies (knee) and Juarno Augustus (bicep) have gone for scans and Fleck is “hopeful” that they will get the all clear.