The Stormers are not just pinning their hopes on Brian Mujati standing his ground against Lions strongman Heinke van der Merwe this weekend, but also on him staying fit for the entire Super14 campaign.
Stephen Nell writes in Die Burger that it emerged on Thursday that JC Kritzinger recently tore a knee ligament, leaving the Stormers seriously short of tighthead props.
It was initially said that Kritzinger’s injury was not serious, but the scale of the potential crisis facing the Cape side came to light on Thursday.
“I will be out of action for another five-and-a-half months,” said Kritzinger.
“I injured the knee during a lineout session. We were practising lineout drives and then I fell badly. I tried to continue, but the ligament tore off completely in the build-up to the game against the Sharks.”
The 21-year-old Kritzinger enjoyed a dramatic rise in last year’s Currie Cup campaign and was voted Western Province’s most promising junior player ahead of another rising star such as Nick Koster.
It had been hoped that Kritzinger would already feature in this year’s Super14.
The Stormers have further problems at tighthead prop because it is believed that Brock Harris will only recover from his ankle injury by the time they reach the midway stage of their tour of Australia and New Zealand.
That could mean Mujati tours as the only fit tighthead prop.
However, before then Mujati has to come through unscathed against the Lions.
Former Lions player Bertus Smit has been training with the Stormers for a while.
Should Mujati be injured, the most logical step would be to shift Wicus Blaauw to the tighthead side. The Stormers did this when Mujati had to withdraw from their pre-season friendly against English club Saracens.
JD Moller and Schalk Ferreira are other loosehead prop options, with the latter set to be converted into a hooker.
While the Stormers scrum stood firm in last week’s 10-14 defeat to the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, there may be major problems with depth at tighthead.
The Stormers scrum will be thoroughly tested against the Lions.
Van der Merwe and hooker Willie Wepener enjoy good reputations as scrummagers.
“The Lions have a very strong scrum and a big tight five. They also have Baywatch (Cobus Grobbelaar) who competes well at the breakdowns,” said Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus.
“That is why they reached the semifinal of the Currie Cup.”Tweet