Burger blow for Stormers
The possibility of first-choice captain Schalk Burger featuring in the Stormers team again this season is becoming more remote with each passing day.
It has been confirmed that Burger will not feature in the Stormers' matchday squad when South Africa's leading team resume their Super Rugby campaign against the Lions in Cape Town on Saturday.
This comes despite assurances from the Stormers management earlier this month that their two most prominent Boks - Burger and lock Andries Bekker - would return after the June Test window.
While Bekker remains on track to return to the team, the Stormers' three top loose forwards are unlikely to play again this season.
Apart from Burger, who injured his knee in the first quarter of the opening match back in February, No.8 Nick Koster (knee) and Duane Vermeulen (knee) are also still sidelined.
While the Stormers coaching staff are holding out hope that Vermeulen could be back in time for the play-offs, Burger's recovery has been "slower than hoped" and it is unlikely that both he and Koster will be available again this season.
The problem this week is that Rynhardt Elstadt is not available for the Lions game, given his one-week ban for picking up three yellow cards.
It means the Stormers will again have to rely on hooker Deon Fourie to cover at flank, with Siya Kolisi (on the other flank) and Canadian import Jebb Sinclair (back from international duty) at No.8 for the visit from the Johannesburg-based team.
Tyrone Holmes, from the Western Province squad, looks set to provide cover on the bench, along with Don Armand who has already featured for the Stormers this season.
The good news is that Springbok Eben Etzebeth, after starting in all three Tests against England, appears to be injury free and could feature in a very powerful Stormers second row against the Lions.