The Stormers might have to call on young flanker Nama Xaba as a replacement for injured captain Siya Kolisi ahead of this weekend’s Super Rugby Unlocked clash against the Bulls at Loftus.
Kolisi suffered a suspected torn hamstring in his team’s struggling 42-37 win over the Pumas in Nelspruit at the weekend.
The skipper, who limped off the field in the opening half, could be replaced as captain by lock Chris van Zyl or hooker Bongi Mbonambi.
Stormers coach John Dobson, who believed the team would be in major trouble this week if they repeated the Nelspruit performance, singled out Xaba as one of the reasons they were able to overturn a 37-14 deficit to claim an unconvincing and sneaky five-point win.
Xaba, lock JD Schickerling and prop Neethling Fouche were brilliant, even though Schickerling’s final pass for the match-winning try by fullback Warrick Gelant appeared to be drifting forward.
“Neethling, JD and Nama made a massive difference, and they probably should have started, in retrospect,” Dobson said.
“Gosh, that was a burglary. Probably the only thing we showed was character towards the end.”
An injury to Pumas flyhalf Eddie Fouche and a yellow card to No 8 Jeandre Rudolph allowed the Stormers back in the match in the second half.
“There was the horrible and unfortunate hip injury to their flyhalf Eddie Fouche, but before his injury he really pinned us back in our own half and we messed up lineout after lineout,” Dobson said.
“We couldn’t get out of our own half and they dominated the territory.”
The visitors were “well beaten”, Dobson admitted.
While he felt the Pumas were outstanding, however, Dobson was relieved his charges were able to claw their way back.
“You can’t teach the character that came out of our camp. All our Springboks were off and the next tier just stood up,” he said.
Dobson said he gave his team a big speech at half-time, which might have done the trick.
“By that stage we were so well beaten but they (Stormers players) showed some pride in the jersey because we were better than that and they got the message,” he said.
“It was literally down to the last 15 minutes and eventually we pulled off a great train robbery.”