Stormers' flyhalf capacity to be tested again

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 08:19
Large damian willemse v bulls 2018 800

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Stormers' flyhalf spot has been a revolving door in the last few seasons. 

There have been plenty of candidates for the No.10 role, but no one has really made it their own.

Injuries have also played a big part and it continues to be a factor going into the start of the 2018 Super Rugby season.

With Robert du Preez now at the Sharks and Jean-Luc du Plessis [groin] still out injured, Damian Willemse will be the first-choice No.10 when the season starts.

Head coach Robbie Fleck has also bolstered his flyhalf stocks with the signings of George Whitehead and Joshua Stander, but they will not strike fear into the Cape side's opponents.

"Jean-Luc [Du Plessis] should be starting to train with Dobbo [John Dobson] in about two weeks time. If all goes well he should be fit by the time we return from the tour, so that is good news in that regard," said Fleck.

"Two or three months ago he [Du Plessis] was looking in trouble in terms of his career, so it's a big turnaround there, which is a positive." 

Fleck added: "We brought in George [Whitehead], he is going really well at the moment and we obviously got Josh Stander as well.

"We are building a bit of capacity there [at flyhalf] and Damian is back to full training, so those are our options at the moment at flyhalf. 

"We got Dillyn Leyds who can play there, but with SP Marais out we were looking to start Dillyn at the back [fullback]. He brings that experience there. 

"Hopefully SP will be back in full training within the week and be fit for the tour."

Injuries have also forced the Stormers to expand their leadership group this year.

Springboks Eben Etzebeth (shoulder) and Frans Malherbe (neck) are part of that core leadership group within the Stormers, but they will miss a substantial part of the Super Rugby season with their respective injuries. 

"The bulk of the leadership group is still there and we will look to add one or two leaders to the group while those two are out," said Fleck. "They [Etzebeth and Malherbe] still form part of it, but their return to play dates hasn't been set yet. 

"Eben is getting feeling back in his arm, he is getting a bit of muscle there so its good news because it was almost an indefinite injury. 

"With Frans Malherbe, we are hoping that he will be back in April,

"It does give an opportunity for someone like [Steven] Kitshoff to come into it and for maybe another youngster, so we can put in a bit of a succession in terms of leadership."

By Warren Fortune

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Sat, 26 May 2018
Reds v Highlanders 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Bulls v Brumbies 13h05 Loftus Versfeld
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens 14h00 London
Stormers v Lions 15h15 Newlands
Leinster v Scarlets 17h00 Dublin
Fri, 01 June 2018
Highlanders v Hurricanes 07h35 Dunedin
Sat, 02 June 2018
Blues v Rebels 05h15 Eden Park
Chiefs v Crusaders 07h35 Hamilton
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 12 6 1 5 31
Rebels 12 6 0 6 30
Reds 11 4 0 7 18
Brumbies 11 3 0 8 16
Sunwolves 12 2 0 10 10
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 13 11 0 2 50
Hurricanes 12 10 0 2 45
Chiefs 12 8 0 4 37
Highlanders 11 7 0 4 32
Blues 12 3 0 9 17
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 13 7 0 6 36
Jaguares 13 8 0 5 34
Sharks 13 5 1 7 28
Bulls 12 5 0 7 24
Stormers 13 5 0 8 23