Stormers coach John Dobson has lamented the “traumatic” injuries suffered by his Springbok World Cup final stars this Super Rugby season that will also play on the mind of new national team coach Jacques Nienaber.
The Stormers were early season front-runners in Super Rugby before back-to-back losses halted their progress, and they are currently training in isolation in Cape Town with the competition on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The good news is that Bok captain Siya Kolisi is on the mend and four weeks away from fitness after he was injured in the season-opening win over the Hurricanes, but there is little other reason for cheer.
The latest injuries are to halfback Herschel Jantjies (fractured fibula) and prop Steven Kitshoff (pectoral muscle), who are expected to be out for three and four months respectively.
“We had six guys who played in the World Cup and five are now out with long-term injuries. These are all deeply traumatic injuries, nothing to do with load. It is something you can’t explain,” Dobson said.
“It is freakish because it is not a conditioning issue. You saw Siya’s tackle, how Bongi’s (Mbonambi) leg got bent back at a ruck, Herschel fractures a fibula … it’s terrible.”
Dobson also revealed that lock and World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit is expected to be out for three months after he picked up a hematoma that developed into acute compartment syndrome and put him at risk of losing his leg following the loss to the Auckland Blues last month.
“We are not the Stormers we were at the start of the season,” he said. “Take five World Cup finalists out of any team and it is a struggle. But we have got depth and have shown character.”
The world champion Boks are scheduled to face Scotland in two tests in July, as well as a one-off game against Georgia, though a final decision on those matches will be made next month.
The coronavirus outbreak has shut down sport around the world, with top competitions called off as governments ban mass gatherings and tighten border controls as part of efforts to contain the virus, which has killed more than 9,000 people.