Stormers’ back up plan for Kolbe


Kolbe, who has missed just eight minutes of the Stormers’ 2016 campaign, and co-captain Juan de Jongh are strong candidates to be included in the South African Sevens side for the Rio Olympic Games in August.

The Blitzboks are set to have a training camp in July, which means that Kolbe and De Jongh, if they are selected in the 12-man squad, could miss the Stormers’ least league match against the Southern Kings on July 16 at Newlands, as well as possible play-off matches.

“We know that they are in the mix. But I can’t say when and if that is going to happen,” Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said yesterday. “If they get called up, they get called up. We will deal with it like any other situation and take it head on.”

Kolbe said yesterday, “my main focus is with the Stormers right now, and I will just take everything as it comes with regards to the Springbok Sevens”. But he also nodded in approval when Fleck outlined Englishman Jones’ strengths when it comes to playing in the No 15 jersey.

Jones has not played any senior rugby at fullback, as he featured on the wing and at centre for Western Province and the Stormers last year. But, after Dillyn Leyds suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this year, Fleck said that Jones has all the attributes to fill Kolbe’s boots.

“He has played pretty much every position in the backline. He has played some games for the Under-21s (at fullback) a few seasons ago,” Fleck said.

“He is one of the most gifted footballers in our side, he is a natural. He is a great passer, and he runs great lines.

“We are in that situation where we needed to try things and we certainly need to back that individual. We need to start give him some game time there and that will come in the next couple of weeks.

“It would be crazy if we didn’t have plans in case Chessie gets called up. We have got to give these guys opportunities at the back to get comfortable.”

Fleck mentioned that Jaco Taute is also back in training after a long lay-off with a ankle injury, and that he could also be an option at No 15. But Taute, these days, is viewed as more of an inside centre than a fullback, especially because his injuries have robbed him of some of his pace.

But one man who will slot right back into the Stormers side when he is fit is lock Eben Etzebeth. However, it won’t be this week against the Sunwolves in Singapore.

The Stormers’ medical staff has given the lock an extra week to recover from a calf tear, but he should be ready for their crunch conference match against the Bulls.

“There was a bit of a delay in his recovery, and we certainly hope that he will be ready next week. We’ve been advised by the medical staff not to push him. The best for him and the team is for him to sit out this week,” Fleck said.

“He is certainly feeling confident, but the best advice was to give him another week of rehab. It was a fairly big calf tear, and he is a big unit, so it takes a bit more time for him to recover.

“He’s missed a fair bit, and you want your best players on the park. But we are confident that he will be back next week.” - The Star

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