Etzebeth back for Stormers
Etzebeth back for StormersSHARE
Eben Etzebeth, who has produced world-class performances since his arrival on the international stage, is likely to start on the bench in the Stormers' Super Rugby clash against the Blues on Friday.
"It's good to have Eben back but we know he has not played for some time," said Stormers coach Allister Coetzee on Monday.
"We know from experience that you don't really know what you are getting until the player is in a game."
The 21-year-old Stormers lock was injured in a pre-season friendly, in February, and had been on the sidelines ever since.
He was included in the franchise's Australasia tour party and Coetzee said his prize line-out jumper was up for selection again.
"It normally takes a couple of games before a player coming back from a lengthy injury really hits the zone. He's still a youngster, and there is a certain amount of rustiness.
"It would, therefore, be unfair to start him in this match because of the (minimal) workload that he can handle at this stage."
Coetzee said neither Andries Bekker nor De Kock Steenkamp, based on recent performances, deserved to be dropped for Friday's clash.
They were working well as a combination and had not played any bad games, he said.
"What De Kock has done is exemplify what the word opportunity means," Coetzee said.
"You have to always be ready to slot in when needed. In fact you need to be ready ahead of time so you can make maximum use of your opportunity and De Kock has done that.
"He has played consistently well for us this season – he's been a consistent performer."
Etzebeth would be eased back into the side, and was likely to play between 40 and 50 minutes off the bench.
Coetzee also welcomed back from injury both Siya Kolisi (flank) and Elton Jantjies (flyhalf).
"We have 26 players on tour and 26 players to choose from for the Blues match which is a good position for us to be in.
"We will need to look at what the opposition are going to bring and where they are going to challenge.
Flank Michael Rhodes had returned to Cape Town and although Coetzee had not seen his medical report, he said he expected an injury lay-off for at least a month.
However, the rest of the squad was in fine fettle after their tour-opening win over the Hurricanes last Friday.
"Everyone trained today," Coetzee said from Auckland, adding: "It was quite a good day for us.
"All the players, with the exception of Siyabonga [Ntubeni], took part in the full warm-up before the Hurricanes match last Friday. Siya joined us [at training] today, so that’s great news."