In what could be a big blow to the Springboks, Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth may have broken his hand in their Super Rugby clash against the Lions at Ellis Park at the weekend.
Having already lost captain Siya Kolisi (knee) and flank Pieter-Steph du Toit (shoulder), Stormers coach Robbie Fleck admitted their injury knocks had made a big impact in their 41-22 defeat to the Lions.
“At the moment our injury list is long,” Fleck said.
“It’s not just Siya. There are some big-name players missing like Pieter-Steph, while Eben potentially broke his hand on Saturday and (lock) Cobus Wiese did his hamstring.
“So we’ll have to bring some youngsters through.”
While Kolisi and Etzebeth were set to miss the remainder of the Super Rugby campaign, and Etzebeth might also miss this season’s Rugby Championship, they were both expected to recover in time for the World Cup in Japan in September.
Fleck, meanwhile, insisted his side had not given up hope of making the Super Rugby play-offs.
“We have the Sunwolves next and then the Sharks, both at home, so I believe we are still very much in contention,” he said.
“We will start fresh on Monday and build towards that.”
There were just ‘too many disruptions’ and injuries to their team, he admitted, and that affected how they played last week.
“We conceded too many turnovers and missed too many tackles, which led to some excellent tries scored by the Lions,” Fleck said.
“We are obviously disappointed with the result, the way it landed up, but we were in it and did well to fight back in that first half when we were under pressure.”
Fleck nonetheless congratulated his players for staying in the fight, and he said they would now move on.
“In the end we got the opportunity to get into the bonus-point range, and we did score some decent tries ourselves.
“But credit to the Lions. They defended well in the end there, and when they got the space they made use of their opportunities.”