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Stormers sweating over fitness to key players

Schalk Burger is expected to miss this week's Hurricanes match

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Article Published: Monday 24 February 2014|

The Stormers attempt to get their Super Rugby campaign back on track were hampered on Monday when several first-choice players were sidelined by injury.

As if the weekend's 34-10 mauling they suffered at the hands of the Lions in Johannesburg was not enough, the likes of Manuel Carizza (back), Schalk Burger (groin), Siya Kolisi (shoulder), Scarra Ntubeni (ankle) and Deon Fourie (ill) were all reduced to passengers at Monday afternoon's training session in Bellville, Cape Town.

Coach Allister Coetzee did, however, report some good news and said all the players, with the exception of Burger, were expected to be fit to play in Friday night's match against the visiting Hurricanes at Newlands.

"Siya picked up an injury, but I expect him to be running again on Tuesday," said Coetzee.

"Scarra went over his ankle and it is strapped now, but we expect him to be ready for the Hurricanes. We are not sure how Schalla's (Schalk Burger) groin injury will respond and that's a concern.

"We have sent Deon home because he has an infection, but he'll be fine."

Meanwhile, more good news was that Springbok fullback Jaco Taute looked full of running, and seemingly injury free.

"Jaco was running freely at training but it is still not clear how he'll fit into the picture on Friday," said Coetzee.

"When a player has had a long lay-off because of injury, there is a question mark over his confidence. I need to establish if he is comfortable with starting or if he would prefer to play off the bench.

"In the end, we'll do what's best for Jaco so that he is comfortable with his return to action."

Another player who could force himself into the selection frame is lock De Kock Steenkamp, who participated in his first training session since his injury.

"It looks like De Kock is ready to play, and it eases the situation in terms of lock reserves," the coach said.

In the aftermath of the team's weekend display, which Coetzee said was embarrassing, a change in midfield looked likely.

Coetzee is considering moving Damian de Allende in from the wing.

"We had to play Damian on the wing because of the injury situation, but he is a top-class centre," said Coetzee.

"It will be an option to play him at centre because with Jaco likely to return, Gio (Aplon) can play on the wing again.

"Damian did play well on the wing, as did Kobus van Wyk on the other side, but we could do with Damian's abrasiveness in midfield and that's where I would like to see him on Friday. Everything depends on what we decide for Jaco this week."
Coetzee said Friday's match was about setting the record straight.

"One doesn't become a bad team overnight and after this wake-up call we need to make sure that we make a good start to the game.

"We were punished (by the Lions) and simply gave points away. We have learnt many lessons, and now the first-game jitters are out of the way. Playing at home makes a massive difference (to the team)."

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