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13 May 2008 09:08
“Good golly, it’s Ollie,” exclaimed one excited Stormers supporter on arrival at Monday’s training session in Durbanville.
There he was, Ollie le Roux, the 128kg prop who had finally appeared after much speculation in the past week that he would be joining the Stormers.
“He’s been running like a spring chicken,” said Frikkie Erasmus, the Stormers media manager. “It’s almost certain that he’ll be playing against the Lions on Saturday, but there are a few minor details still to be decided.”
It has now transpired that Le Roux has already been in the country a week but he chose to fly in to the Mother City on Sunday night.
Le Roux’s arrival is a blessing in disguise for the Stormers, who took a hammering in the scrums against the Waratahs at Newlands on Saturday.
He is on top of his game after a marvellous season with Magners League champions Leinster.
He signed off for the champion Irish outfit with two individual tries in his last game, just over a week ago.
The front-row problem at the Stormers started three weeks ago when loosehead prop JD Moller was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
The Stormers had already taken a knock in the early season when Springbok prop Eddie Andrews was laid low with a lower back injury.
Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus called up tighthead Schalk Ferreira, who on return from a neck injury sustained in a motor car accident was hardly match fit.
On one occasion when Erasmus had three props on match duty, two cried off with injury during the match, and the referee allowed the last few scrums in the match to go uncontested because the Stormers could not field two specialist props.
Lately, Erasmus has gambled by playing Mujati at loosehead, but Harris has been taking a pounding at tighthead, and on Saturday the Stormers conceded two heels against the head to the Waratahs.
Le Roux (35) is highly experienced in Super 14 rugby, having played for the Cheetahs, Cats and Sharks. The Stormers also want to tap into his experience to help their scrum to be a force.
The Stormers have now fully considered their chances of reaching the semifinals once this weekend’s matches are completed.
It has dawned on them that even if they beat the Lions as well as pick up a bonus point, there is still a chance they could fail to reach the semis.
The scenario that could spell disaster for Stormers would a combination of the following: wins for the Hurricanes and Waratahs (with or without bonus points), and if the Sharks win with a bonus point and end the league phase with a superior points difference.
For the moment it looks like the Stormers will clear the way for Le Roux to face the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday. And if they reach the semis, they’ll want Le Roux in the mix.
“If we make the semis, we’ll want to select Le Roux, but we’ll need to get special permission from [ruling body] Sanzar as the rules stipulate a player needs to play four games in the league phase. “We’ll know by Saturday night whether we will apply or not,” said Frikkie Erasmus.
There was good news about the Stormers’ two injury concerns after Saturday’s Waratahs match. Both Wylie Human (wing) and Brok Harris (prop) have recovered from their rib and shoulder injuries respectively.—Sapa
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