Xaba injury leaves Stormers coach teary-eyed

Stormers coach John Dobson has explained why Nama Xaba’s injury has left him feeling devastated after the young loose forward was ruled out of the Rainbow Cup SA.

The 23-year-old rolled his ankle during a training session this week ahead of the Stormers’ match against the Bulls in Cape Town on Saturday evening.

He wasn’t named in the match-day 23 and has subsequently been ruled out for the rest of the tournament.

Xaba’s is just one of several injuries at the Stormers, as they lost rookie flyhalf Kade Wolhuter to a long-term knee injury in last week’s defeat by the Sharks, while No 8 Juarno Augustus, locks Salmaan Moerat and JD Schickerling and Springbok scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies are also sidelined.

However, Xaba has personally had a rotten run of injuries over the past few months. During Super Rugby Unlocked last year, he also injured his ankle against the Pumas in October and was ruled out of the rest of the tournament and the Currie Cup that followed.

Having worked hard to recover, he made a long-awaited comeback against the Sharks, where a strong performance showed that he can fill the No 6 jersey vacated by Springbok captain Siya Kolisi.

‘He won’t play again in this competition, I don’t think,’ Dobson said when asked for an update on Xaba’s status. ‘The initial feedback was six weeks, and I hope it’s not more than that.

‘It was devastating. I felt a bit teary to be honest. He has just been through so much and he’s so exciting and so good.

‘To see a player collapse in tears is tough.’

The Stormers have turned to Marcel Theunissen, another highly rated young loose forward,  to combat the threat posed by the Bulls’ star-studded back row of Duane Vermeulen, Elrigh Louw and Marco van Staden.

‘Marcel isn’t as much of a stealer as Nama, but he has got real X factor on attack and a massive work rate,’ Dobson explained. ‘The threat from Duane and Marco is on the ground from our ball.

‘Marcel has got to look after our own ball. We’ve been so impressed with him this year and it’s a big opportunity.

‘Selfishly, or personally, I just feel quite devastated for Nama.’

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