John Dobson has confirmed that the DHL Stormers will be without Ruhan Nel for the rest of the season after the veteran midfielder suffered a knee injury against the Sharks.
Nel had to be carted off during the first half of the Stormers’ 16-15 win against the Sharks in Cape Town on Saturday night.
Speaking after the match, Dobson confirmed that he doesn’t expect Nel to play again this season after learning that the centre had injured knee ligaments.
“It looks like a pretty serious knee injury,” Dobson said. “I heard on the coach’s radio that it was a PCL or a MCL, but I have heard now that it might be an ACL. Either way, it’s his season [over].”
When looking at outside centre replacements, Dobson said that the Stormers have options in youngster Suleiman Hartzenberg and English wing Ben Loader, but also hinted at something different for the position.
“Suleiman can play at 13 and he is a good centre. Ben Loader will be back early next year,” Dobson said. “We do have another plan.”
Having finished 2023 with a third win on the trot, the Stormers will enjoy a week’s break, before resuming action in the Champions Cup with a home clash against Sale Sharks.
Dobson said the Stormers plan to play a handful of friendlies early next year, to give some of their squad players an opportunity to get a good run.
“Next week we will have a circuit break, with no rugby. Then we have Sale and La Rochelle in the Champions Cup. Then we have quite a nice run of friendlies against UCT, Maties, Griquas and a game against Northampton away.
“It’s really important because what’s bothering me is we have so many good players and I can just feel that we are not giving opportunities. We have gone with our best team for three weeks and maybe we paid for that tonight.
“That’s why the friendlies are so important. The most important thing about this group is that everyone feels that they belong and I think that’s what makes us fight for victories, like that. I am just worried that we are stratifying slightly between the playing and non-playing team. That’s something the friendlies will address.”
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