Western Province have suffered a big setback with the news that first-choice locks, Ruan Botha and Jean Kleyn, sustained season-ending injuries.
The injuries occurred during Friday’s victory over the Pumas in Nelspruit, with the news coming as a significant blow to head coach Allister Coetzee.
Furthermore, it appears full-back Cheslin Kolbe could also have played his last game of the Currie Cup season for the current league pace-setters.
“It is true that we paid a high price for our bonus-point win at the Mbombela Stadium, where the Pumas suffered their first home defeat of the season,” explained head coach Coetzee.
“The match was not televised so very few people would have seen how we were disrupted by a string of injuries. It was a massive effort by the players to win the match, and then snatch a bonus-point try at the end. One has to give credit to the leadership in the group.”
Province have already lost the services of Seabelo Senatla and Justin Geduld to Sevens.
Early in the match, Botha went down with an ankle injury and he was later followed off the field by his second-row partner, Kleyn, who sustained a knock to the shoulder.
“After both our locks picked up injuries, we lost (at the start of the second half) Cheslin with a slight fracture to the vertebrae, so you can imagine, our bench came into play much sooner than what we planned,” said Coetzee.
“We won’t see Ruan and Jan again this season and Cheslin could face a four-week lay-off by, which time the season would have ended already. But I’m hoping Cheslin makes a dramatic recovery and that he may be available for the play-offs.”
Coetzee said that flank, Michael Rhodes, has been earmarked for lock cover.
“There are locks like Gerbrandt Grobler (shoulder) and Tazz Fuzani (broken arm) that are in the squad but both are still on the injury list and will not be available for selection again this year. We will look at a young player like Jurie van Vuuren who played for us in the Super Rugby season,” he added.
To make matters worse, hooker Tiaan Liebenberg (back) will not return this term.