Gerhard van den Heever has flown to Australia as a replacement for De Kock Steenkamp, who will be out of action for up to four weeks.
Steenkamp took a big blow to his sternum during Friday’s 17-18 loss to the Blues and has returned home from tour immediately. His team mates are in Sydney for matches against the Waratahs and Rebels.
With Springbok Eben Etzebeth having returned to full fitness, and fellow forward Don Armand joining the tour party last week (as a replacement for Michael Rhodes), it was decided to bolster the Stormers’ resources out wide instead of calling up an additional forward.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee explained: “Yes, it’s not like for like – with a wing replacing a lock – but we feel we’re well covered up front, with Eben back to fitness and Don having been here for a week now. Having Gerhard join us will give us some more options out wide in our two remaining tour games.”
The loss of Steenkamp will be keenly felt, however, the softly-spoken second row having excelled for the Stormers in the absence of Etzebeth.
“De Kock has been consistently good for us this season – as a line-out forward and with his overall work-rate. We will miss him.
“But Eben is ready to start for us, after making his return against the Blues,” added Coetzee. “Unfortunately, it seems to be a case of ‘one in, one out’ for us at the moment – first losing Michael and now De Kock, but flying Don in and now having Eben back to full fitness. Eben did well against the Blues, in his first appearance of the 2013 Super Rugby season, and we’re looking forward to him adding more value as the tour progresses.”
Van den Heever, 24, has played 20 games for the Stormers – five of those appearances coming this season before injury intervened against the Crusaders at the end of March.
Said Coetzee: “Gerhard had been playing some great rugby this season (before his knee injury), but he has recovered well. He very nearly came into contention for the tour squad from the start, so we look forward to welcoming him back into the fray.”