Botha set to start for Stormers against Bulls

Stormers specialist lock Ruan Botha will be considered for selection in this week’s Super Rugby opener against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

Botha returned after a long injury lay-off and, in the wake of the injuries to locks Eben Etzebeth and Manuel Carizza he is needed to fill in.

“I’m happy to start with Ruan. It is more a question of how long he will play for,” coach Allister Coetzee said.

“With Victor Matfield back for the Bulls, it’s going to be a challenge, but I’m confident about our line-out.”

Loose forward Nizaam Carr has overcome the effects of a viral infection which caused him to miss the three warm-up matches and Coetzee said he had done well enough at training to warrant consideration for the starting XV.

“Nizaam is back and training flat out. It depends on how much game time other players have had before we decide if he’ll start or come off the bench.

“Siya Kolisi is training in a controlled environment and possibly a week or two away from being back in action.”

The loose forward injured a hamstring a fortnight ago.

The other player back from injury was utility back Damian de Allende who had recovered from troublesome quadriceps. His return was vital in the absence of backline players Jean de Villiers and Kobus van Wyk, both injured.

Van Wyk was expected to be ready in the next few days and his condition would be assessed later this week.

Coetzee said the Stormers’ opening game presented the twin challenge of playing away and at altitude.

“It’s never easy to play your first game away and at altitude but we’ve had that experience in the past,” he said.

“We are also sitting with players who have had very little time in the warm-up games and their fitness will come into question. It’s something we have to deal with and it’s something that we’ve prepared for.”

Prop Frans Malherbe is still on the injury list and his recovery was well ahead of schedule and in other news Kenyan wing Willy Ambaka was also expected to be fit for selection within a few weeks.

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