Big blow for Stormers as Roos ruled out

rugby07 June 2024 10:50
By:Gavin Rich
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Evan Roos @ gallo images

The DHL Stormers have sustained a body blow to their chances of progressing further in the competition with the confirmation that star loose-forward Evan Roos will miss Saturday’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship quarterfinal against the Glasgow Warriors.

Roos emerged unscathed from last week’s 29-24 win over the Emirates Lions in the last league match of the season, where he was the team’s top performer across several statistics. However, he sustained a concussion in training in the buildup to the game which left coach John Dobson with no choice but to go without his influential flanker. Roos has played at openside flank in the last few games.

The 24-year-old Springbok has been replaced in the No 6 jersey by Willie Engelbrecht. The former Mpumalanga Pumas Currie Cup winning captain is a good player but the Stormers will miss Roos’ influence in several areas.

While the Stormers have lost one their most influential forward, they have gained at the back, with Warrick Gelant returning from the injury niggle that kept him out from playing against the Lions to take up his usual position at fullback. He replaces Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, who as anticipated moves into the midfield, with Dan du Plessis moving to outside centre in Wandisile Simelane’s place to accommodate him in the No 12 jersey.

Ben Loader comes in on the wing in place of Angelo Davids, who was red carded last week, while Paul de Wet makes a return from injury in place of Stef Ungerer as the scrumhalf back up on the bench.

Dobson has changed up his entire front row for this game, with Brok Harris, Joseph Dweba and Frans Malherbe starting this week for Sti Sithole, Andre-Hugo and Neethling Fouche, all of whom find place on the bench in a game where all six front row forwards will have an important role to play in what could be a tough scrum battle.

Dobson has reverted to a six/two split between forwards and backs on the bench, with Connor Evans returning from being loaned to Griquas by being one of two locks, the other being Adre Smith, who will be backing up the starting pair of Salmaan Moerat and Ruben van Heerden.

With Deon Fourie, Damian Willemse and Leolin Zas already ruled out, and if you think about there are others who have been out for most of the season such as centre Ruhan Nel, the addition of Roos to the injury list leaves the Stormers looking well short of full strength for this game. However, according to Dobson, it hasn’t undermined the team’s belief that they can win at a venue where not many visiting teams are successful.

“We know it will take a top performance to stay alive in this competition and that is a challenge we have embraced,” said Dobson.

“We will have to do it without a number of frontline players due to injuries, but it is a testament to the depth we have built up and the quality of the squad that there is plenty of belief. Despite having almost a full team out, we have built up good momentum going into the playoffs. This is our first away URC knock-out game after playing six in a row at home and we want to show we can rise to the occasion.”

DHL Stormers team: Warrick Gelant, Suleiman Hartzenberg, Dan du Plessis, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Ben Loader, Manie Libbok, Herschel Jantjies, Hacjivah Dayimani, Ben-Jason Dixon, Willie Engelbrecht, Ruben van Heerden, Salmaan Moerat, Frans Malherbe, Joseph Dweba, Brok Harris. Replacements: Andre-Hugo Venter, Sti Sithole, Neethling Fouche, Adre Smith, Marcel Theunissen, Connor Evans, Paul de Wet, Jean-Luc du Plessis.