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Kolbe suffers 'freak accident'

Wed, 15 Jan 2014 17:58
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Surgery setback for versatile Kolbe
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Cheslin Kolbe’s Super Rugby debut has been pushed back after the rising star suffered a serious knee injury during a Stormers training session on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old suffered a torn lateral meniscus in what coach Allister Coetzee described as a “freak accident” and requires surgery that will sideline him for at least eight weeks.   

“Cheslin Kolbe injured himself in training yesterday [Tuesday] and will be out for a minimum of eight weeks. He torn his lateral meniscus and will be operated on soon,” Coetzee confirmed at a media briefing on Wednesday.  

“Cheslin and someone else, I’m not sure who it was, ran into each other and someone stood on his foot and the knee just buckled … it was a freak accident,” he explained.

Coetzee said it was a devastating setback for Kolbe, who starred for both the South African Under-20s and the BlitzBokke last year, but said injuries are part and parcel of the game.

“We normally suffer a few casualties this time of the season. It’s unfortunate, but we have a number of exciting young players, which shows the continuity within Western Province and the Stormers."  

Kolbe’s entry into Super Rugby was widely anticipated after the fleet-footed flyer impressed in the Western Province jersey in his debut Currie Cup season last year.

Equally adept at fullback and wing, Coetzee had planned to employ Kolbe - who was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving last November - on the wing this season. His injury has now raised early concerns about the Stormers’ wing stocks.

Coetzee said they would look to strength their depth out wide but insisted there are exciting candidates to fill the void within the squad.

“We’re really backing our youngsters coming through, and those youngsters had a good season at Under-21 level, so it’s reward for the likes of Pat Howard and Kobus van Wyk. We are obviously keeping our ears close to the ground to get another wing, but we’re backing the players we have here,” said Coetzee.

“You’d always like more depth than you have,” Coetzee admitted, adding: “The two main positions that are a bit of a concern are wing and No.9. We have two young scrumhalves coming through and two regulars in [Nic] Groom and [Louis] Schreuder, so that’s where we could be spread a bit thin.”

Kolbe’s injury could open the door for Scott van Breda, on loan from the relegated Southern Kings, to remain in the squad for the majority of the season.  

The Stormers have, however, welcomed back Springboks Jaco Taute, Frans Malherbe, Pat Cilliers, Tiaan Liebenberg and newly-elected vice-captain Schalk Burger from injury to bolster their squad depth.

“I’m very excited to have those types of players back in the mix, they’re training well,” proclaimed Coetzee, adding the returning stars would be closely monitored.

The signing of Pumas lock Manuel Carizza will significantly lighten the blow of losing Springbok Eben Etzebeth for most if not all of the upcoming campaign due to an ankle injury.

“After a few years in France I’m excited to be at the Stormers and looking forward to the season,” said Carizza. Recently married Deon Fourie will provide an added boost when he joins the squad on Monday.  

Coetzee said he’s hopeful Taute, who sustained a horrific knee injury against the Cheetahs last April that ruled him out for the remainder of the year, will be able to feature in the three pre-season matches against the Bulls, Southern Kings and Boland.

“I’m hoping to see Jaco getting game time in the friendlies. It [a return to full fitness] could take longer [than the friendlies], but I don’t want to put a time frame on it.    

“It’s quite a tough injury to come back from so obviously his comeback will have to be managed properly. Jaco’s conditioning is looking good - he’s on track - but one can only really see when he starts playing.

“The big thing is going to be to get over that nervousness in the contact situation as it’s all been controlled up until now. We’d be looking to give him 20 minutes, 40 minutes and gradually ease him back in until we see him reach the level that he can play.”  

With Springbok prop Deon Carstens retiring at the end of last year, the Stormers appear vulnerable at loosehead, with Steven Kitshoff expected to carry a heavy workload.  

Coetzee, however, said he has full faith in the youngsters making the step up to Super Rugby this season.

“I’m not worried about loosehead. We have Oliver Kebble - who’s really looking good - and I’m pleased with his progression, and Allister Vermaak,” he said. 

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