Springbok star Pieter-Steph du Toit may owe his career to the medical team that took decisive action after he suffered a freakish injury in the match against the Blues. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Stormers continue to train in what their medical team has described as ‘a controlled environment’. On Tuesday, team doctor Jason Suter confirmed that every precaution is being taken to ensure that the players remain healthy during a period where concerns around the coronavirus pandemic are on the rise.
Suter said a system has been implemented at the High Performance Centre in Bellville to test for Covid-19, and that no positive results have been reported to date.
That’s the good news for the Stormers, and if one is to consider the bigger picture, it’s the news that matters most. The bad news is that the Stormers have sustained a series of serious injuries over the past few weeks.
Suter delivered a report which suggests that the franchise will be without their Springboks for some time. Even if, in the unlikely scenario, the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament does resume at the end of April, the Stormers will be without Du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Bongi Mbonambi, Herschel Jantjies and Steven Kitshoff.
Some of these players could miss the July Tests against Scotland and Georgia – if indeed those matches proceed as scheduled.
The news could have been a lot worse for Du Toit, though. The blindside flank won the World Rugby Player of the Year award following his superhuman displays at the 2019 World Cup. He was the form No 7 in South Africa before he was struck down by a freakish injury two weeks ago.
On Tuesday, Suter explained what had transpired after Du Toit left the field in the clash with the Blues at Newlands.
‘It was a medical emergency,’ Suter said. ‘He had a haematoma that developed into acute compartment syndrome. They’re incredibly rare cases. Only 43 have been recorded in the literature.
‘It’s a medical emergency, because if you don’t pick it up early and treat it, the patient will lose blood supply to their leg and could lose their leg,’ the Stormers team doctor continued.
‘Within 15 minutes of him coming off the field and us assessing him, we realised that he was at risk of this particular condition. He was taken straight to Vincent Pallotti Hospital where we had a vascular surgeon waiting. He was operated on that night.
‘They had to cut through the muscle to release the pressure. They were only able to close that 10 days after his initial injury.’
Du Toit should be back on the field in three months’ time. With the unplanned break, of course, the Bok star may have ample time to recover.
John Dobson praised Suter for his quick diagnosis and ultimately saving Du Toit’s leg.
‘Doc deserves a lot of credit. It would have been devastating for Pieter-Steph and the game as a whole for a player to lose his leg.’
Du Toit has played a lot of rugby for franchise and country over the past two seasons. On Tuesday, Suter confirmed that Du Toit’s injury had nothing to do with his workload. He added that many of the other injuries sustained by Stormers players in 2020 could not have been avoided.
Kolisi is currently recovering from a serious knee injury that was sustained in the first game of the season against the Hurricanes. On that occasion, the Bok and Stormers captain was hit off the ball by a Hurricanes player.
Kolisi is expected to be back in action in four weeks. Mbonambi (hamstring tear) – who also broke down in that first game – could be out for as long as five months.
On Tuesday, the Stormers revealed that Herschel Jantjies fractured his fibula in the recent game against the Sharks and will be sidelined for three months. Lock JD Schickerling will be out for four weeks after tearing a muscle in his arm.
Stand-in skipper Kitshoff tore his pectoral muscle in the same fixture. The Bok prop will undergo surgery and will be out of action for four months.
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