Stephen Nell reports from Cape Town that Springbok hooker Tiaan Liebenberg is set to return to the Stormers but they may be without key lock Andries Bekker when they depart on Thursday for their tour of New Zealand and Australia.
Bekker has an injured toe and the seriousness of the injury will only be known on Tuesday morning. It is unlikely though that he will get on the plane with the rest of the squad.
That means his participation in the Stormers’ first Super14 tour match against the Crusaders on 28 March is in jeopardy.
This could not come at a worse time for the Stormers – the Newlands camp was rocked by news that wing Nick Koster and hooker Deon Fourie will not be involved in the tour. Springbok wing Tonderai Chavhanga will also be sidelined for a minimum of two weeks after injuring his hamstring.
“It’s unlikely that Andries will leave with us. We will have clarity on Tuesday morning, but it looks doubtful,” said Stormers spokesperson Frikkie Erasmus.
Bekker’s injury will leave a void that is difficult to fill. AJ Venter performed well at lock against the Bulls, but the Stormers will lose a lot in the lineouts and also miss Bekker’s athletic capabilities. Bekker has already scored three tries this season.
Erasmus also confirmed Dylan des Fountain and Morgan Newman will tour with the Stormers.
There is some good news though, Liebenberg is on his way back from French club side Toulon to Cape Town on Tuesday.
The Stormers had a potential crisis at hooker following Fourie’s injury. Former Springbok hooker Hanyani Shimange, who is captaining Western Province’s Vodacom Cup side, is set to become a dad next week, so the only other option would have been to use Schalk Ferreira as deputy to Schalk Brits.
Liebenberg said in a statement on Sunday night on the official website of former Western Province lock Ross Skeate – that he is glad to be coming home.
“Everything happened quickly. My wife and I were watching TV and then I got a call from Rassie Erasmus (Stormers coach) to say that Deon had torn knee ligaments and there is an opportunity. They knew I was keen to return to South Africa,” said Liebenberg.
“I missed the Stormers. You want to be in a set-up where you play and enjoy the experience. I can’t wait.”Tweet