Stormers doctor reveals rare injury that almost ended Pieter-Steph’s career

Pieter-Steph du Toit of Stormers during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Blues at DHL Newlands on February 29, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Carl Fourie/Gallo Images)

The rugby fraternity, even if it’s unwittingly so, clearly tend to underestimate the potential impact of some knocks on the field.

Stormers team doctor Jason Suter has shed more light on the freakish injury that has sidelined Springbok flank Pieter-Steph du Toit .

The 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year is out for the next three months due to a leg injury sustained in his side’s Super Rugby loss to the Blues at Newlands late last month.

Suter – along with head coach John Dobson – addressed reporters at the Stormers’ High Performance Centre (HPC) in Bellville on Tuesday where an injury report was provided.

DHL Stormers team doctor Jason Suter during the DHL Stormers media briefing at High Performance Centre on March 17, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Suter made a startling revelation that Du Toit’s injury was potentially career-threatening.

“He had a medical emergency after the Blues game. He had a haematoma that developed into an acute compartment syndrome. It’s incredibly rare – there have been only 43 (cases) listed in the literature (worldwide),” Suter said.

The team doctor added: “It’s a medical emergency because if you don’t pick it up early they lose blood supply to the leg and they lose the leg.

“Within 15 minutes of him coming off the field and assessing him, we realised that he was at risk of this particular rare condition. He was taken straight to Vincent Pallotti (Hospital) where he had a vascular surgeon waiting and he was operated on that night.

“It’s very unusual, very rare but they had to cut through the muscle to release the pressure and they were only able to close that leg 10 days after his initial injury.”

Suter said Du Toit was recuperating at home.

“He is recovering well and we expect him to be back, based on the surgeon’s report, at around three months.”

Dobson added: “Doc deserves enormous credit for Pieter-Steph, had a rugby player lost his leg it would have been devastating for the game. And if it wasn’t for the timely intervention then I think (he could have lost his leg)… almost half of the 43 reported cases had resulted in that.”

Meanwhile, Suter also confirmed the injuries suffered in last weekend’s loss to the Sharks in Durban.

Prop Steven Kitshoff tore his pectoral muscle and requires surgery and is expected to return to play in four months’ time. Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies fractured his fibula and is expected to be out for three months, while lock JD Schickerling tore a muscle in his arm and will be out for a month.

The latest injuries to Kitshoff and Jantjies leave the Stormers without five of their six Springboks who played in last year’s Rugby World Cup final.

Dobson said the injuries were “freakish” and had nothing to do with overload. “It’s just something that you can’t explain. We had six guys who played in the World Cup final – five are now out on long-term injuries. It’s really freakish. It’s not because of any conditioning issue whatsoever… it’s terrible…”

The Stormers also confirmed that there will be no team training amid the suspension of Super Rugby due to the coronavirus.

However, players are allowed to gym at the HPC and practice their skills on the field.

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