Malherbe set to return for Stormers

Date published: February 17 2015

Stormers tighthead prop Frans Malherbe is poised to return to action when his side host the Blues at Newlands on Saturday.

The Springbok front-row suffered an ankle fracture in Argentina last August and since then has been biding his time on the sidelines.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee, speaking at Monday's briefing in Bellville, said that Malherbe has returned to "full training".

"Frans is ready to play and now it's just a matter of deciding (to start or play off the bench)," he explained.

"The timing of his return is crucial."

Another Springbok to move off the team's injury list is flanker Siya Kolisi, who has also returned to full contact training.

The Stormers returned from their Loftus Versfeld triumph over the weekend injury-free, although several players sat out at Monday's training session.

"That's the way we manage them," said Coetzee.

"We had concerns around Cheslin Kolbe's ankle but he is fine. Lock Jean Kleyn has muscle tightness but that's because he is still building up to (full) match fitness.

"Dillyn Leyds also has a tightness niggle but a day's rest will take care of that."

As a result of injuries sustained in the recent months, the Stormers were forced to field six debutants (three off the bench) against the Bulls, and they all gave a good account of themselves.

"It was pleasing to see how the debutants stepped up to the plate at a time when some of our experienced players were out with injury. They produced performances which assure us as coaches that there is depth in the squad.

"It also creates a situation where there will be greater competition for places, and players returning from injury will know they will have to fight to get back into the team."

More good news is that rising star, Kobus van Wyk, who was sidelined by a calf injury a fortnight ago, is well on the road to recovery and could come into the selection picture this weekend.

"Kobus is training in a controlled environment for now but we'll do an assessment on Wednesday. Once we know the results, we'll make a call," revealed Coetzee.

A surprise at training on Monday was powerhouse Kenyan wing Willy Ambaka, who joined Western Province last year but has been battling with injuries ever since.

He is expected to play in the Vodacom Cup team initially before he will be considered for Super Rugby selection.

Following their upset win over the Bulls, Coetzee said his side will have to cope with "greater expectations" in the weeks that lie ahead.

"Unlike previous seasons, we made a very impressive start and that immediately heightens expectations. The challenge is to build on that performance from one week to the next."

Coetzee said the Blues will be very different opponents from the Bulls.

"We played the Bulls three times in the Currie Cup last season so we knew what to expect," he said.

"We may have played the Blues only once in a season so we don't always know what we're up against.

"After one match we cannot be judged as a good or bad side but we will take confidence into the Blues match."