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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Stormers lose Gary Porter to injury as lock crisis worsens

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As if losing their third match on their United Rugby Championship tour wasn’t bad enough, the Stormers’ lock crisis has deepened ahead of Friday’s clash against Cardiff (9.35pm kick-off).

No 5 lock Gary Porter left the Thomond Park pitch early in the first half of the 10-3 defeat to Munster at the weekend with an ankle injury, and he has now returned home and won’t feature at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday.

Attack coach Dawie Snyman said from the Welsh capital yesterday that Hendré Stassen has been called up as a replacement, but things are not looking good for a Stormers lineout that has generally misfired this season.

That has been largely due to the absence of line-out general Marvin Orie, who has joined French club Perpignan, and another Springbok second-rower in Salmaan Moerat, who sustained a knee injury in the URC opener against the Lions at Ellis Park.

Adré Smith replaced Porter against Munster and is likely to start against Cardiff, with Stassen on the bench, but much like the backline, it is not an established combination – and hooker Joseph Dweba has been battling with his throw-ins as well.

Star loose forward Hacjivah Dayimani is also on paternity leave back in South Africa, but Snyman said he should be available to face Zebre in Cape Town next weekend. But it’s all about ending their four-week tour on a high note against Cardiff, following defeats to Glasgow (20-9), Benetton (20-17) and Munster (10-3), which sees last season’s finalists languishing in ninth on the log.

Despite the three losses in a row, the Stormers are still confident with their approach to Friday’s Cardiff clash, which will be on a 4G pitch.

“It was a solid performance,” Snyman said.

“We wanted to come away with a result and it was disappointing not getting that. Going up against Munster at home, with their Irish (Test) players back, we will take a lot out of that performance, and learned a lot from it – so not too bad.

“It is a bit of an adjustment from a grass pitch (to a 4G pitch), so hopefully we learned a bit from the Glasgow game. We had an opportunity to train on it today, but it will be tough on Friday night.

“We had a discussion this week, in terms of where we want to be, especially the backs and how we are operating. We are challenged a bit – new combinations – and we have to build a bit of rhythm on that.

“We are looking at solutions and how to find better rhythm. It’s been small moments that is (playing a role) in not getting us over the line.

“But we understand where we are going wrong and what we need to be sharper on, and we are ready to get those results.

“That is why we take a lot of confidence out of the Munster game. It was quite wet and windy, and I think we adjusted well in terms of the conditions. It went down to the wire, and if it wasn’t for one or two small moments, we could have gotten close to a result – or even a draw.

“We need to learn from it and adjust to the conditions and what the opposition allow us to do,” he concluded.

IOL Sport

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