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Stormers will turn their focus to bouncing back from the Blues

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“So that’s the main drive, they want to bounce back. Pieter-Steph hasn’t really been talked about so much.”

While the loss of Pieter-Steph du Toit is obviously a massive blow, Stormers coach John Dobson says the team have channelled most of their focus into bouncing back after their disappointing showing against the Blues.

Following that 33-14 defeat two weeks ago, it was confirmed that the reigning World Rugby Player of the Year had sustained a hematoma to his thigh that required surgery.

Injury setback

It was yet another injury setback for the Stormers, who had also lost Siya Kolisi and Bongi Mbonambi to long-term injuries before that. But the guys haven’t been too focused on going into deep waters against the Sharks without one of their star players this weekend and beyond.

“Ja, it’s obviously a big blow. People talk about this pack but we’ve got three World Cup-winning Springbok forwards out with serious injuries,” Dobson said. “They (the players) are quite resilient. I think the shame of the performance against the Blues and how we worked if you get beat but you don’t work you’re quite ashamed, especially when you show the guys the clips.

“So that’s the main drive, they want to bounce back. Pieter-Steph hasn’t really been talked about so much.”

Dobson also said that Ernst van Rhyn is likely to start at No 7 in Du Toit’s absence this weekend.

“I think Ernst is probably the most like-for-like. I think Jaco (Coetzee) and Trokkie (Juarno Augustus) had poor games against the Blues, but they’ll both respond, so that’s probably the way we’re heading (in the loose trio),” Dobson said.

The Stormers coach added that their injury situation has also influenced their rotation plan for the Super Rugby season.

“I think it does change things a little bit. It was imperative in those first four games, the four being at home and the one being a conference game, that we put out our strongest team,” Dobson said. “Also, there’s a massive business imperative at Newlands, we have to get ticket sales. People came to see Siya play and now he and the likes of Pieter-Steph are injured unfortunately.

“If a guy like Ali (Vermaak, also injured), for example, was fit, that would have been an option for this week (playing him). But the reality of taking three forwards out means there is less room to manoeuvre.

“We’ve got some room at loose forward and lock to change things up a bit.”

The Stormers face the Sharks at Kings Park on Saturday (3.05pm kick-off).