Cape Town — While Stormers wing Seabelo Senatla will be out for a significant period, the United Rugby Champions will be boosted by the return of Leolin Zas soon.
Senatla picked up a pectoral injury in their opening win over Connacht in Stellenbosch at the weekend after being cleaned out dangerously by Bundee Aki.
While losing the former Sevens extraordinaire is a huge setback for John Dobson’s team, the return of the inaugural season’s top try-scorer should cushion the blow a bit.
Speaking during a press conference yesterday, Dobson went through their options to replace Senatla.
“He’s having an op today, so he’s out … not sure for how long, but its going to be a few months,” Dobson said. “Zas will probably be another week … if we really got into trouble we could probably select him.
“We can move Suleiman (Hartzenberg) out there, there’s also Chris Hollis and Tristan Leyds.”
Damian Willemse is also still recovering from the concussion he sustained in the Springboks’ Rugby Championship win over Argentina, but even if he was fit to play, the defending champions wouldn’t have slotted the utility back – or any other Boks who have amassed a healthy load of Test minutes this season – right back into the URC.
“Damian is still going through his return-to-play. We will phase the Boks in over the next four or five weeks. We definitely need to rest the props,” Dobson said.
While it might be a challenge juggling the players’ workloads and ensuring that they get results while at the same time doing justice to the national cause with the end-of-year tour coming up in November, Dobson explained that they are approaching the season with practicality.
“It has been quite an interesting competition so far. In Super Rugby we had Springboks available every week, and now we have got to get used to rotation and losing games.
“Obviously, we will go out to win every game, but what I am trying to say is that you can lose a few games and still make the playoffs.
“The next few weeks will take a lot of planning. Marvin (Orie), for example, was overplayed last year and he can’t go right through to Christmas this season.”
The Stormers will host Edinburgh at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday (2pm kickoff), and when asked what he is expecting the Scottish side to bring, Dobson said: “I think they are a really good multi-phase team. Their set-piece is really good and they have got a lot of X-factor. It’s a really, really good team on paper. They contested well against the Bulls. They look like one of the strongest teams in the URC.
“They are a real all-round team. They have probably got one of the best lineouts. They’re maybe not the best mauling team, but you can’t top everything.”