Injuries trip up victorious Stormers
REACTION: The Stormers have completed their pre-season with a third successive win, but it has come at a dear price.
Coach Robbie Fleck confirmed that captain Juan de Jongh and flyer Leolin Zass will miss the start of the season, after suffering devastating injuries in their impressive 57-40 demolition of the Lions at Newlands at the weekend.
Speaking in the immediate aftermath after their nine-try demolition of the Lions, Fleck said it is suspected Zass fractured his lower leg - both his tibia and fibula.
However, he was still awaiting formal confirmation, as the young player went to the hospital for X-rays on Satur5day night.
De Jongh, who was the run-on captain for the Newlands outing and was part of the season's core leadership group, might be sidelined for six weeks or more.
He suffered a suspected grade two level injury of his medial collateral ligament.
Fleck said he would wait for the results from the medical staff, but admitted he is not expecting the Springbok midfielder to return soon.
"It is a horrible blow for us," the coach said.
"Leolin was really looking forward to this season and he's just come back from an injury.
"He is very distraught.
"And Juan is also not good.
"I will leave it to the medical staff to make their assessments, but it looks like he's going to be out for several weeks also."
This double injury blow follows a number of pre-season injury setbacks.
Flank Marnus Schoeman, on loan from the Pumas, was ruled out of the weekend's outing after he suffered a concussion in training last week.
Schoeman, who was originally in the Cape side's plans for the match last Saturday, was brought in to plug the gap left by the injury to Lions signing Stephan de Wit.
De Wit, who broke his ankle in training during the pre-season, was seen as a solution to the Stormers' problems in the openside flank role.
And they still have an injury hangover from last year, with hooker Scarra Ntubeni still busy with rehabilitation from the surgery he underwent late last year to repair a torn Achilles tendon. He is not expected to feature in this year's competition at all.
Fleck revealed that the Bulls' Springbok capped wing Bjorn Basson has signed to play for the Stormers this year.
While there has been no official announcement as yet, Basson was at Newlands on Saturday.
Utility back Joe Pietersen, who had a stint with Biarritz in France after leaving the Stormers and then also played for the Cheetahs and Sharks, has also started training with the Stormers again.
However, he will be used in a mentoring role and only called upon if absolutely necessary.
Fleck described the win over the Lions as an "overall pleasing performance".
"We achieved some of the goals we set out to do," he told a media gathering, adding: "After the pre-season games we can say we are happy at the moment."
However, he felt that they still lots of room for improvement ahead of their season opener against the Bulls at Newlands on February 25.
By Jan de Koning at Newlands