Tonderai Chavhanga has sustained a grade two hamstring tear and will miss the rest of the Super 14.
Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus confirmed the news just a day after prop JD Moller was ruled out for three to four months with a shoulder injury. Both Chavhanga and Moller were showing great form for the Cape franchise, and Erasmus agreed the double blow was untimely.
“Tondie’s out for at least four weeks, but we’ll be lucky if we see him again in the Super 14. It’s really unfortunate since he was playing some good rugby.”
The 24-year-old started in all nine Stormers matches, scoring four tries. Despite this setback, he may have done enough to warrant inclusion in Peter de Villiers’s Bok team for the friendlies against Wales and Italy.
Gio Aplon replaced Chavhanga in last Saturday’s match and looks a likely candidate to wear the No 14 jersey against the Highlanders. Prop Schalk Ferreira will replace Moller, even though he’s played a mere 60 minutes of club rugby since his car accident in January.
“We’ve lost JD at a bad time, and I know it’ll be a big test for Schalk,” said Erasmus. “But he’s such a natural athlete I’m sure he’ll catch up.”
Erasmus confirmed these as two definite changes, but hinted at a few more. Peter Grant is feeling the after effects of flu, and there’s a strong chance Tony Brown will start at pivot. Regular reserves Tiaan Liebenberg and Ross Skeate could also be rewarded with starts at hooker and lock respectively.
“We are not thinking about rotation, but Saturday’s game against the Hurricanes has taken its toll and we’re a little punch drunk.
“There are the changes for injuries, but there won’t be any other big changes. Guys like Ross and Tiaan have featured since the beginning of the season. Bash and Andries [Bekker] have played a lot of rugby and deserve a bit of a break.”
Erasmus believes the Stormers will maintain momentum despite the changes. There’s no room for complacency.
“The Highlanders have lost a lot games by slim margins, so we won’t underestimate them this weekend. They lost 10-6 to the Hurricanes, a team we didn’t beat by much [20-12] last week.”
By Jon Cardinelli