Exciting eighthman Willie Engelbrecht might have to leave Cape Town prematurely and return to Nelspruit should the Rainbow Cup’s overseas fixtures be cancelled.
SA Rugby have confirmed the kickoff times for the first three rounds of the competition, with a decision about rounds four to six, which will involve the four South African teams going overseas, expected on Friday.
The Stormers are due to host the Sharks next Friday in Cape Town in the opening match of the new tournament.
Born in Pretoria, the 28-year-old Engelbrecht was one of the Pumas’ star players during the recent local competitions, and was loaned to the Stormers for the Rainbow Cup.
However if the Rainbow Cup’s away leg is called off, Engelbrecht will have to return to Nelspruit to make himself available again for the Pumas and the next local competition.
The Stormers acquired the services of Engelbrecht after their backrow depth took a knock with three of their top loose-forwards not being available anymore.
First Springbok captain Siya Kolisi was granted a release to join the Sharks and then ace flank Jaco Coetzee was given an early release to join Bath, and more recently, No 8 Juarno Augustus has been ruled out for three months with an injury.
Fortunately the Stormers have also gained the services of young star Evan Roos, who was initially on loan from the Sharks, but has now been permanently signed.
Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse explained the deal around Englebrecht’s move to the Cape.
“Willie was only granted a loan deal for the Rainbow Cup and possible ProRugby,” said Stonehouse.
“But if the Rainbow Cup gets cancelled, or if the overseas leg doesn’t happen, he has to return to Nelspruit as he still has a two-year contract with us and has to be available for local competitions such as the Currie Cup.”
Apart from their backrow, the Stormers are also apparently keen to strengthen their depth in other key positions such as hooker.
It is understood that the Cape-based team wanted to lure former Cheetahs hooker Joseph Dweba back to South Africa from Europe, where he now plays, but that that “deal” has fallen through, but the names of Malcolm Marx and former captain Deon Fourie have been mentioned as options.
Marx previously played for the Lions and has spent the last two years in Japan, playing for the Shining Arcs and the Kubota Spears in the Top League.
Currently, apart from Bongi Mbonambi, who is apparently on the Sharks’ shopping list, the other hooker options are Scarra Ntubeni and Chad Solomon.