A broken leg has ended Conrad Jantjes’s Super 14 and possibly his chances of facing the British & Irish Lions.
Jantjes sustained an ugly knock in only the 10th minute of the Stormers’ match against the Chiefs. Coach Rassie Erasmus confirmed afterwards the Springbok fullback has broken his leg, and although the severity of the break is yet to be discovered, Jantjes will miss the next six weeks of rugby. This all but rules him out of the Test series against the Lions next month.
Schalk Burger (calf) and JD Moller (shoulder) also left the field and the extent of their ailments will be known after scans on Monday.
‘It’s heartbreaking for Conrad,’ Erasmus told keo.co.za. ‘It looks a very serious injury and we hope he’s going to be alright.
‘[Replacement] Tiger Bax came on and tried his heart out, but it was a big blow to lose our star fullback and them our captain. It’s just been that kind of year, we’ve had terrible luck with injuries.’
The Stormers lost their eighth match of the season with the 28-14 defeat to the Chiefs, and despite the result, Erasmus said he was proud of the team effort.
‘I know I’m going to get a few shots for saying this, but I’m very proud of my guys, even though we lost by 14 points. It’s been very tough with injuries and to lose two more was a shock. Having said that, I felt the Chiefs were the better team. They were the better team, but we were never lacking for commitment or hunger to succeed.’
The Stormers have underachieved after such a promising performance in 2008, but again Erasmus believes injuries are at the heart of their slump. Given time to develop, the Stormers coach reckons the Cape union could once again become a force.
‘The Stormers are rebuilding. We’ve had something like 14 players out with injury this season, and the problem is the guys coming in are lacking in experience. We don’t have any problem when it comes to talent, it’s more that the guys lack experience.’
Chiefs coach Ian Foster sympathised with the Stormers’ mentor as the Chiefs have often had their own play-off ambitions hamstrung by injuries.
‘Every season one team gets nailed with injuries. In the past it’s been us, and we’ve annoyingly missed out on play-off qualification.
‘When you get hit hard like the Stormers have it can take it’s toll. I can honestly say they really made us work hard for our win today. Their effort may not show on the Super 14 log, but it certainly shows on the park.’
Erasmus intimated that youngsters like Bax, Martin Muller and Morgan Newman could receive more opportunities in the coming weeks. Percy Montgomery’s injury will be reassessed on Monday, but he is unlikely to be back for the Force clash.
By Jon Cardinelli