The Springboks and Stormers suffered a potentially huge setback on Saturday when tighthead prop Wilco Louw picked up a serious hip injury in the Western Cape side’s Super Rugby warm-up game against the Bulls in Wellington.
Louw left the field in agony in the early stages of the game, which ended in a 26-26 stalemate, and Stormers coach Robbie Fleck was a concerned man afterwards.
“It definitely doesn’t look good,” Fleck said.
“How serious it is will be confirmed once he has seen the specialist, but a grade one hip flexor injury is at least four weeks (on the sidelines), while anything more serious could mean a lengthy spell out.”
Making matters worse for Fleck, his other Bok No 3, Frans Malherbe, is still out with a neck and back problem.
This could mean a novice like Carlu Stadie might be thrown in the deep end when the Super Rugby competition kicks off in less than two weeks.
Fleck, however, said he might be forced to loan a player from outside the Stormers region in order to strengthen their depth in the front row.
With tightheads seemingly becoming an endangered species, the problem is also likely to concern the likes of Rassie Erasmus who is in line to take over from the departed Allister Coetzee as national coach.
Meanwhile, off the field, burly Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx was the big winner at the Lions awards ceremony at Ellis Park on Saturday, walking away with four accolades.
Marx was named Super Rugby Player-of-the-Year, Supporters’ Player-of-the-Year, Players’ Player-of-the-Year and Most Valued Player-of-the-Year.
Other winners included Bok lock Franco Mostert, who was named Super Rugby Forward Player-of-the-Year, scrumhalf Ross Cronje (Super Rugby Backline Player-of-the-Year), lock Marvin Orie (Currie Cup Forward Player-of-the-Year), Ashlon Davids (Currie Cup Backline Player-ofthe Year) and flank Kwagga Smith (Currie Cup Player-of-the-Year).