Bok captain set for lengthy lay-off
INJURY UPDATE: Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth is in a race against time to be fit for the June Tests against England.
Etzebeth, who has struggled with a shoulder injury on the year-end tour, has seen a number of doctors and specialists regarding the problem.
The Stormers said on Wednesday that he is "being evaluated weekly", but added that he is "not yet fit to train".
He will be out for at least four months.
It means that in a best case scenario he will have only May to play himself back into form and Bok contention.
Etzebeth took over the Bok captaincy from Warren Whiteley against the French in June, after a groin injury ruled the Bok No.8 out for six months.
Whiteley has only recently returned to action for his Japanese club and is in fine form.
Etzebeth is not the only injury concern for the Stormers, who will face the SWD Eagles in a Super Rugby pre-season match George on Saturday.
Players who were not available for selection due to injury include Etzebeth (shoulder), Jean-Luc du Plessis (groin), Dan du Plessis (shoulder), Frans Malherbe (neck), Jano Vermaak (knee), Jan de Klerk (knee), Siyabonga Ntubeni (hamstring), EW Viljoen (foot), Michael Kumbirai (back), Grant Hermanus (groin), Johan du Toit (knee) and Justin Phillips (rib).
Jean-Luc du Plessis and Dan du Plessis are both expected to be sidelined for a further eight weeks, with Jean-Luc recovering from recent groin surgery in the United States and Dan out with a shoulder injury.
Vermaak will also be out of action for a further two months with a knee injury that was seen to in the off-season, whilst Malherbe continues to recover from his neck injury and is only expected back later in the season.
* Meanwhile New Stormers recruits Sergeal Petersen and Raymond Rhule were both named as part of the squad to face the SWD Eagles.
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has named a 32-man squad for the encounter, which will be played in four chukkas.
In addition to the playing squad, there will be a further 13 Stormers players who will travel to George in order to take part in a Fun Run at on Saturday morning.
Captain Siya Kolisi will be there with the likes of Steven Kitshoff, Wilco Louw, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Dillyn Leyds on the five-kilometre fun run.
Petersen and Rhule will be joined by fellow Springbok Damian de Allende in the squad for the warm-up clash, along with exciting young talents such as Salmaan Moerat and Juarno Augustus.
Also included in the playing squad are five members of the Western Province Under-21 team that won the national championship last year in Eddie Zandberg, Ruben de Villiers, Paul de Wet, Herchel Jantjies and Wikus Groenewald, along with Under-19 talents Christian Ambadiang, Sihle Njezula, Rikus Pretorius and David Kriel who will all be at the Western Province Rugby Institute this year.
Fleck said that the first pre-season game will give him a chance to give a wide range of players some game-time against a competitive SWD outfit.
"We always look forward to our pre-season trips to George and we are expecting the usual spirited opposition from the Eagles, which is just what we need after a hard pre-season,"Fleck said.
"While we will be getting in some valuable preparation on the pitch, it is also exciting to be able to connect with the community in George through the Fun Run some of our players will take part in on Saturday morning," he added.
Stormers squad: Christian Ambadiang, Juarno Augustus, Jaco Coetzee, Damian de Allende, Ruben de Villiers, Paul de Wet, Stefan de Wit, Wikus Groenewald, JC Janse van Rensburg, Herschel Jantjies, Eduan Keyter, Dan Kriel, David Kriel, SP Marais, Salmaan Moerat, Dean Muir, Sihle Njezula, Caylib Oosthuizen, Sergeal Petersen, Rikus Pretorius, Raymond Rhule, Carlu Sadie, Ramone Samuels, Chad Solomon, Joshua Stander, Luke Stringer, Kobus van Dyk, Chris van Zyl, Ali Vermaak, George Whitehead, Cobus Wiese, Eddie Zandberg.