Injuries in terms of South African rugby will be compounded next year
Gary van Aswegen's latest injury has left Allister Coetzee facing a flyhalf crisis with Kings-bound Demetri Catrakilis the last man standing.
Van Aswegen, who has less than 10 first class caps over the last three years, suffered a season-ending injury at training on Wednesday, which following the loss of Kurt Coleman to a broken jaw, leaves Coetzee desperately short on options at flyhalf.
Coetzee explained that Van Aswegen's injury was almost identical to the one he sustained in the early stages of Super Rugby this year and has ruled him out for at least four months.
"Remember Gary's ankle injury from the beginning of the year, I think he played one Super Rugby game and then got injured at training and then was out up until the start of the Currie Cup.
"He has been out for a long time and it is the same ankle and the same injury so this is the season for Gary. It was just in the tackle situation as he was awkward in the tackle.
"He has got to go for scans so that we can determine how serious the injury is, but the oke is going to be out for four or five months," he said.
In a bizarre turn of events Coetzee finds himself down to one fit specialist flyhalf just weeks after letting Burton Francis go to the SWD Eagles because he had too many options in the position.
Since then Catrakilis has confirmed that he will be joining the Kings at the end of the season, whilst Coleman and Van Aswegen have been sidelined by injuries, leaving only utility players as back-up for the rest of the season.
"At least we have got one flyhalf [Catrakilis] standing and we have got cover in players like Louis Schreuder and Joe Pietersen who can cover there.
"Obviously Burton Francis is playing for the Eagles now, at one stage we had four flyhalves and now we have got one standing. Kurt Coleman is out with a broken jaw and he is out for the season but I suppose that is how it goes," said a dejected Coetzee.
The situation is reminiscent of last year when Coetzee went through a series of flyhalves in Super Rugby which eventually resulted in forgotten Bok Earl Rose joining the squad.
It also poses a question about Coetzee's long-term options in the position, as Peter Grant will not be available at the start of the Super Rugby season next year, and speculation about the possible signing of Elton Jantjies refuses to go away.
The Western Province boss has had to deal with his fair share of injuries this year, but warned that the situation is only going to be worse for South African teams next year as the cumulative effect of the demanding schedule hits home.
Coetzee used the example of Richie McCaw's six-month break next year as a possible solution for the imminent injury toll, and said that he is well-aware of the need to manage the fitness of his senior players who will go on tour with the Boks at the end of the year as well.
"Injuries in terms of South African rugby will be compounded next year. We will be battling to keep our top players unless we as franchises look at what Richie McCaw is doing to save his career.
"I have got to assess our Springboks when they come back from the year-end tour and look at each one individually and maybe look at a window or timeframe where we could rest them.
"You have just got to make sure you have got the reserves, the cover and back-up for Super Rugby," he said.
Coetzee expressed confidence that the crop of young players that have come through in the Currie Cup this season will be able to make the step up in Super Rugby level and remains hopeful that players like Schalk Burger and Nick Koster will be able to make a big impact on their return from long-term injuries.
"A player like Schalk [Burger] probably feels like a young man again after his sabbatical that he has had, so there will still be quite a lot of depth here to work on," he said.
By Michael de Vries