Tim Whitehead to cover for Habana

Bryan Habana has been ruled out of the Stormers team for their clash with the Sharks in Durban on Saturday and Ikeys star Tim Whitehead will replace him on the left wing, as he did early in the second half against the Crusaders last Friday.

By Len Kaplan, rugby365.com

Commenting on the loss of Habana for the weekend, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said: “Obviously Bryan is a top-class player and it’ll be a bit of a blow.” But he said but the team had played without Schalk Burger in one critical game and other top players in other matches and the players who had stood in for them had done well.

“I think the team feeds off one another at this point in time. There’s a [lot of] positivity and we’re backing the guys who are doing duty this weekend,” Coetzee said.

On the prospect of Habana returning for the match against the Bulls at Newlands next week, the coach said: “Fortunately Bryan is not that bad and there’s a big possibility that he could be available for us next week.”

The coach was enthusiastic about the inclusion of Whitehead, who is most comfortable at inside centre but has done well at outside centre as well and did himself credit on the left wing when he played just over half an hour in place of Habana against the Crusaders.

“Tim is just a natural footballer so with his skills it won’t be a big change to move from outside centre out to wing,” said Coetzee.

Good news for the Stormers is that Joe Pietersen has recovered from the hip injury sustained against the Cheetahs on March 20 and returns to the match 22. He will play off the bench in the only other change to the match-day squad.

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