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Aplon in the mix for Crusaders clash

Mon, 25 Mar 2013 19:22
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Etzebeth making good progress
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Fleet-footed Stormers wing Gio Aplon could recover from a head knock in time for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Crusaders at Newlands.

Aplon was forced to leave the field in the 49th minute of last weekend’s encounter against the Brumbies after having come off second best in a clash with bruising No.8 Fotu Auelua, but according to coach Allister Coetzee, the hot-stepping speedster could be ready for the weekend’s encounter.

“Gio did his tests today and it’s really positive. We will gradually give him training time and if he comes through that without any symptoms he will be available for the weekend,” Coetzee said on Monday.

Coetzee confirmed that loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff would miss the match after being suspended for one week after being cited for a dangerous tackle.

“We accept the decision regarding Steven and the task now falls to a player like Pat Cilliers and Brok Harris against a formidable Crusaders pack. It’s a pity that Steven won’t be available, though, because he has been playing good rugby.

“Brok played in the Vodacom Cup last weekend, on the loosehead and tighthead, and it went well. It’s been a plan three-four years in the making to make Brok equally adept at either side of the scrum and I’m pleased with his progress. Pat has also played quite a bit of rugby at loosehead.”

Deon Carstens, however, will not recover in time to front up to the Crusaders. The Springbok prop is battling with a back injury and tests confirmed that he will be unavailable for the weekend.

“We are looking at him returning to training next Monday and if all goes well he’ll run out against Border in the Vodacom Cup next weekend,” said Coetzee.

Jean de Villiers, Andries Bekker, Tiaan Liebenberg and Joe Pietersen all sat out Monday’s training with minor injuries but Coetzee said there were simply being managed and “will all be up for selection.”

Coetzee said Schalk Burger (calf) will be reassessed in two to three weeks’ time prior to the team’s Australasian tour.

“If all goes well he could go on tour but I don’t want Schalk Burger back until everything is cleared and he’s 100 percent. If he can’t run flat out on a treadmill or in the gym then I don’t want to see on the training field.”

Coetzee said he is “very positive” that Eben Etzebeth (ankle) would tour with the squad and declared the lock “touch-and-go” for the crunch local derby against the Sharks on April 13.

“Eben will continue his rehabilitation for the next two weeks before he returns to on-field training when we will see if he runs comfortably without any hassles and then the next step is game time.”

Coetzee also intimated that Peter Grant looks set to miss the tour after his ankle injury proved more severe than initially expected.

“Peter is going to be out for a bit longer than the original prognosis was. It’s a very tricky injury and the same thing he had two years ago just the other foot and he was out for between six to eight weeks.”      

Coetzee said that scrumhalves Dewaldt Duvenage and Louis Schreuder will provide flyhalf cover until Grant returns. “There is also Kurt Coleman and Gary van Aswegen, in the Vodacom Cup team, and we will take a look at them if need be - once they’ve both had more games under the belt,” added Coetzee.

Scarra Ntubeni (shoulder) returned to training on Monday, but is not taking part in all team training yet and won’t be considered for selection.

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