Bekker out for five weeks
30 May 2012
Springbok lock Andries Bekker has been ruled out of the north-south derby and will also miss the coming Tests against England.
Bekker has succumbed to the same lower back injury that has troubled him for the past few seasons. Stormers coach Allister Coetzee confirmed on Wednesday that Bekker would be out for five weeks. And that time frame is conservative.
‘According to our medical team he will only be reassessed again in five weeks,’ said Coetzee. ‘He had a back operation last year and we’ve tried to manage him this season but unfortunately he can no longer cope with the workload.
‘It’s a big blow for us at this point as he is our lineout manager and he is a Springbok in our pack. Having said that, I’m confident De Kock Steenkamp [Bekker's replacement this week] will handle the responsibility. He’s a good lineout manager and can bring the type of energy and physicality needed for a clash like this.’
Coetzee explained that Bekker has been adequately managed this season, and was adamant that the injury is not a byproduct of too much rugby.
‘I’ve done the best I can to manage Andries, and I’m sure he will be the first to say so. He hurt his back again after that game against the Crusaders, and we managed him carefully from there.
‘He hasn’t played a full 80 minutes all season, and we have also not expected him to take part in every training session.’
While Coetzee claims that the Stormers will cope without Bekker, the news of his injury presents a problem for the Boks.
Bok coach Heyneke Meyer has made it clear that of all the locking candidates in South Africa, only Bekker and Bulls lock Juandré Kruger have the necessary skills to play No 5 for the Boks.
Kruger will now be considered for that first Test against England on 9 June. A strong performance against the Stormers this weekend will go a long way to convincing Meyer of his value.
Coetzee has opted to make further changes to the Stormers’ tight five, with Deon Carstens replacing Steven Kitshoff at loosehead prop. Kitshoff is unavailable because of SA U20 commitments.
Frans Malherbe has been preferred at tighthead prop and Brok Harris may be used at loosehead later in the game.
The Stormers have welcomed back flanker Siya Kolisi from a shoulder injury but fullback Joe Pietersen (back strain) has failed a fitness test and will not be available for the match.
Stormers – 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Deon Carstens.
Subs: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Quinn Roux, 19 Don Armand, 20 Nick Fenton-Wells, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Burton Francis.
By Jon Cardinelli