Now Stormers holding thumbs on Herschel

rugby09 June 2019 12:22| © Cycle Lab
By:JJ Harmse
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Herschel Jantjies © Gallo Images

DHL Stormers coach Robbie Fleck can probably console himself that for once he didn’t finish a match dealing with injury problems in multiples, but given the influence that Herschel Jantjies has exerted during the Vodacom Super Rugby season the post-match prognosis after the Sunwolves game was a familiar one.

The promising young scrumhalf left the field before halftime with what looked like a collarbone injury and Fleck didn’t sound confident that he will be ready to face the Cell C Sharks in the final league game at Newlands on Saturday.

“Herschel has gone away for scans and at this point it is not looking good for him,” said Fleck after the 31-18 win over the Japanese team that sets up next week’s coastal derby as a decider on which team will advance to the play-offs.

“It is collar bone injury, but I will wait to get feedback on it before commenting further. At this point we are not 100 percent sure how serious it is. It has been unfortunate over the past few weeks that we have had to deal with a lot of injuries but every week we deal with it and we will just have to deal with whatever else comes across our desk tomorrow.”

The only other injury that Fleck had to report was a possible rib injury to Johan du Toit, and again it is in a position where the Stormers can least afford it. The Stormers already have Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Juarno Augustus, Kobus van Dyk and Sikhumbuzo Nothse missing from their loose-forward contact.

One positive though for the Stormers is that at least they have a player capped for the Springboks in the form of Jano Vermaak ready to take up No 9 should Jantjies not be able to face the Sharks. Vermaak played well in what was his first appearance for the Stormers in a long time when he came on to replace Jantjies.

“Jano is a good player so we will back him to do the job and we also have Justin Philips who has been part of the match day squad for most of the season so we don’t have a major problem there,” said the Stormers coach.

Fleck said that on the positive side of the balance sheet his team will be welcoming Seabelo Senatla and Scarra Ntubeni back into the selection mix next week as they return from injury as well as centre Damian de Allende, who sat out the Sunwolves game as per the Springbok resting protocols.

There is also a chance lock JD Schickerling and blindside flank Pieter-Steph du Toit will be available, but Fleck was wary of creating too much hope.

“Both of them will be going for scans early in the week and there is a chance they could face the Sharks but it is important for us to deal with what we have and give confidence to the young players who have come in to replace them. I thought all the new guys did well against the Sunwolves.”

The Stormers won comfortably enough and never looked likely to lose but there should have been disappointment afterwards at their failure to pick up a try scoring bonus point against a Sunwolves team that has leaked a lot of tries this season. Had the Stormers notched a bonus point by scoring three tries more than their opponents they would have gone to third on the conference and sixth overall as they have a better points difference than the Lions, who are one log point ahead of them with one match to play.

The Stormers looked destined to get a bonus point when they scored their fourth try to make it four tries to one with 10 minutes left but the Sunwolves came back to steal one late in the game to cancel the point out.

“It was disappointing to work ourselves into a bonus point situation and then leak it in the end. A bonus point win would have been ideal,” said Fleck.

“We had worked hard to get three tries up and then we made a mistake at the kick-off that leaked the try. But the most important thing was that we got the win. The way we see it is if we win both remaining games it will get us to 38 points and that will be enough.”

Fleck is right about that. The Stormers are currently seventh on the log and a win over the Sharks will be enough to secure the top eight finish that clinches quarterfinal qualification.