Body blow for stumbling Stormers

Keo.co.za has learnt Stormers fullback Werner Greeff will undergo surgery on Saturday and is out of the remainder of the Vodacom Super 14.

Coach Kobus van der Merwe told this site that Greeff, whose ability under the high ball and solid positional play have been prominent thus far in the competition, will play no further part in the Cape side’s campaign.

“On the advice of the Doc, Greeffie will go under the knife on Saturday,” Van der Merwe said. “He suffered a neck injury in the game against the Hurricanes that needs surgery.”

Greeff was substituted early in the second half of the game the Stormers narrowly lost 23-19, and was unable to lift his arm and complained of pins and needles throughout his body.

“Obviously when it comes to neck injuries we take no chances, and contrary to some suggestions, the substitution of Greeff was enforced and was not tactical.”

Van der Merwe did not attempt to deflect the immensity of the loss.

“This is a serious blow for us. Werner was in terrific form and he has taken some incredible high balls this year. The criticism of him is misplaced and he has been one of our stand-out players.”

Possible replacements for Greeff are Chumani Booi, Joe Pietersen and Tonderai Chavhanga. Booi’s hapless last-minute tackle attempt on Hosea Gear is unlikely to punt his cause, whilst Tonderai Chavhanga’s return from an extensive injury lay-off should see him eased into the side wearing the more familiar jerseys 11 or 14.

Thus Pietersen appears the likely starter, a player whose defensive weaknesses have always threatened to outweigh his attacking threat.

At 1.78m and 78kg, he’s a prime target for the high-ball and is not a secure defender. He will, however, inject more pace and elusiveness into a backline that has lacked those qualities this season.

The absence of Greeff is likely to be met by cheers by certain sections of Stormers support. The same section who routinely jeer the fullback and the same section who seemingly fail to grasp the tactical implications of wearing No 15 and a player mature enough to play within his limitations.

His is a loss that will not be lamented a la Jean de Villiers, but the impact could prove equally devastating.