I think Elton is ready to go
Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies has returned to training following the tragic loss of his father and will be available for the Stormers' clash against the Bulls.
The South African conference champions face a huge challenge in their opening Super Rugby match next week when they take on the three-times champions at Loftus Versfeld, and coach Allister Coetzee admitted that he is grateful to have Jantjies back in the mix.
"We are very happy to have him back obviously, and I think Elton is ready to go. He is looking forward to the next couple of training sessions and if he gets selected obviously, to play.
"I think we all know Elton's abilities and he really looks in good nick so we are looking forward to seeing him play," he said.
Further good news for the Stormers is that skipper Schalk Burger has recovered well from his calf strain and is expected to return to team training later this week.
"He [Burger] has made a big improvement and we are looking at Wednesday or Thursday for him to join team training," said Coetzee.
The biggest selection headache that Coetzee faces ahead of the Loftus showdown will be how to replace Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth who has been ruled out for two months with an ankle injury.
Whilst former Lions players Michael Rhodes and Ruan Botha may get a look-in, it appears more likely that one of Don Armand, Rynhardt Elstadt or De Kock Steenkamp will fill Etzebeth's hefty boots in the second row.
Coetzee explained: "There is Don Armand obviously who can fill in that spot, Michael Rhodes is also there but he hasn't trained there. There is Ruan Botha as well so one has got to make a few decisions.
"I think Don [Armand] played really well in the Currie Cup and De Kock Steenkamp is also a reliable four and five lock. Then there is also Rynhardt Elstadt who is an option to use there.
"We have got to make sure that all thiose options are well trained in the position so should I make a call then there is no problem with the guy slotting in," he added.
The Stormers coach is expecting a fierce onslaught from the Bulls who have looked impressive in their pre-season matches, beating both the Lions and the Cheetahs.
"We have noticed one big change in the Bulls and that is their fitness, they are looking like a really fit side.
"They have won the Super Rugby title as a franchise three times so the opening game at Loftus is going to be a helluva battle for us," said Coetzee.
With pre-season matches against the Cheetahs and Boland under their belt the Stormers will gear up for the North-South derby on February 22 by holding some controlled contact sessions at training.