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Stormers have hooker trouble for opening rounds

Tiaan Liebenberg (centre) and Scarra Ntubeni are both injured

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Article Published: Friday 11 January 2013|

The Stormers already have injury and depth concerns as it has been revealed that two of their three hookers will not be fit for the start of the 2013 Super Rugby season.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says that Springbok Tiaan Liebenberg is still recovering from a back injury and is unable to take contact at training.

Even though Liebenberg cannnot participate in contact training he will still join the Stormers' pre-season camp in Hermanus next week.

Another hooker, Scarra Ntubeni, suffered a freak injury at training earlier this week when a fellow player fell on his shoulder - an injury which was likely to keep him on the sidelines for a month.

Coetzee said Deon Fourie was the only number two in the squad who would be ready for action in their first Super Rugby match against the Bulls, at Loftus Versfeld, on February 22.

"I will be on the lookout for a hooker even outside the province because it is a real concern at this stage," Coetzee said.

"At this stage Scarra's injury may not require an operation but we'll know more about his condition next week, when it will be reassessed.

"The injury came about because of a training ground accident and we'll treat him conservatively because he's a vital player for us.

"Tiaan is working on his throw-ins but he may not have contact at training.

"We need to find a hooker that suits our team."

Fourie played as a loosie for the greater part of last season but Coetzee said the plan was to use him as an out-and-out hooker this year. He had decided to continue his career in Cape Town despite a lucrative offer from French Top 14 club Toulon.

Coetzee would not be drawn into a discussion on who their captain would be this season, but he was pleased they could call on the likes of Schalk Burger and Jean de Villiers, the Springbok skipper.

"Apart from Jean and Schalk we also have several other players who have done well in leadership roles.

"It is not vital for us to name the captain at this stage but players like Andries Bekker, Deon Fourie and even Habana are all capable of doing the job."

The Stormers have friendlies lined up against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on February 2 and Boland Cavaliers in Wellington on February 9.

"This season we don't have the luxury of playing three warm-up matches," Coetzee said.

"I'll be playing with full strength sides in both friendlies so that the players can settle down as a unit."

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