The misery of defeat to the Blue Bulls has been compounded for Western Province with the news that in-form fullback Warrick Gelant will be out for up to nine months.
Assistant coach Norman Laker confirmed Gelant’s season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury on Tuesday.
“He may be out for as long as nine months‚ but knowing Warrick it might only be for around six months‚” said Laker.
Gelant‚ a wonderfully intuitive player with a devilish step and turn of speed‚ will be missed.
He has played with greater consistency since rugby resumed from lockdown and was arguably the most in-form back in the Western Province ranks. His potency on attack and burgeoning kicking game will be sorely missed.
Laker explained the team’s selection options in Gelant’s absence.
“We have Tim Swiel who can cover 15‚ Kade Wolhuter as well and Tristan Leyds can be backup and the same applies at flyhalf. We have a few options. We will just have to see which one will fit in best‚” said Laker.
Though the introduction of Swiel at flyhalf and the shifting to fullback of Damian Willemse will best suit Western Province from an experience point of view, when they play the Golden Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday‚ there is a concerted effort to give the latter as much time in the No 10 jersey.
Willemse’s goal kicking has not inspired confidence and had he and Swiel aimed better at goal against the Blue Bulls last weekend‚ the result would almost certainly have been different.
“He is a world class player‚” said Laker of Willemse. “He trains hard‚ he’s very professional. He does his extras after every training and even before training sessions. It is actually sad that he doesn’t produce what he trains. He is a phenomenal rugby player and he needs to put last week aside.”
With Gelant sidelined‚ the Stormers will have to be careful not to drop their standards in their tactical kicking department. Even in defeat against the Bulls they were able to apply pressure in that area‚ while alleviating it at times too.
“I know we have quite a young squad but in Kade Wolhuter and Tristan Leyds we also have good kickers of the ball. Rikus Pretorius is also a good kicker but he doesn’t kick a lot.
“We also have Damian and Tim‚ and with a guy like Herschel [Jantjies] there I think our tactical kicking is really good. Everybody knows and understand the plan and that is the most important [thing]‚” said Laker.