Tiaan Liebenberg has injured medial ligaments in his knee and will be out of action for eight to nine weeks.
The Stormers’ hooker went down in the 32nd minute in Saturday’s game against Boland and had to be placed on a stretcher and escorted from the field. Liebenberg appeared to be in great pain, and the time it took to get him onto the stretcher indicated that he may have sustained significant damage to his knee.
After the game, a glum-looking Allister Coetzee confirmed that Liebenberg’s injury was serious. It was feared that Liebenberg had torn his anterior cruciate ligament which would have meant a nine-month layoff. However, further scans revealed the damage was done to Liebenberg’s medial ligament, and that he would be sidelined for eight to nine weeks.
News of his injury is a massive blow to the Stormers’ ambitions of winning the Sanzar competition. Liebenberg creates terrific momentum with his bustling runs, is a key cog in the Stormers’ lineout machine and a powerful scrummager. Deon Fourie has shown much promise, but outside of that, the Stormers are thin on experienced hooking options.
On Saturday night, Coetzee spoke about how he was satisfied with the Stormers’ depth, but given that Fourie only recently returned from an injury of his own, the Stormers may have problems at No 2. Siyabonga Ntubeni is inexperienced, while Callie Visagie is another who hasn’t enjoyed exposure at this high level.