Cape Town – The Stormers have received a blow ahead of their Super Rugby opener against the Jaguares on Saturday with the news that Springbok forward Pieter-Steph du Toit will not feature.
Du Toit has been battling a back injury in pre-season and while it was initially expected that he would recover in time for the start of the campaign, it now looks like he has been given some extra time off.
With 2017 Springbok skipper Eben Etzebeth also injured, Chris van Zyl and JD Schickerling will start in the second row.
Du Toit, 25, finished 2017 in the No 7 jersey for the Springboks, but with Etzebeth out he was likely to move back to his more familiar position of lock for the Jaguares clash.
In the front row, meanwhile, Wilco Louw has recovered from the hip injury he picked up in a warm-up clash against the Bulls in Wellington two weekends ago.
Early signs were not encouraging, but a fully fit Louw is almost certain to start at Newlands with Steven Kitshoff and Bongi Mbonambi rounding out the tight five.
Captain Siya Kolisi, who was left out of that pre-season clash against the Bulls as a precaution, is also fit and will start on Saturday.
Coach Robbie Fleck will name his side for the clash on Thursday, while kick-off on Saturday is at 15:05.
After the Jaguares clash, the Stormers will embark on a three-week tour to Australia and New Zealand for fixtures against the Waratahs, Crusaders and Highlanders.
The significance of that tour is likely to explain the reason behind giving Du Toit the weekend off against the men from Argentina.