The 2019 World Rugby player of the year, whose form at flanker was pivotal in South Africa’s World Cup triumph in Japan, will be out of action for another three months with a problem described as very rare by Stormers team doctor Jason Suter.
“He had a medical emergency after the Blues game. He had a haematoma that developed into an acute compartment syndrome,” explained the medic to media at the Stormers’ high performance centre in Bellville. “It’s incredibly rare – there have been only 43 cases listed in the literature. It’s a medical emergency because if you don’t pick it up early they lose blood supply to the leg and they lose the leg.
“Within 15 minutes of him coming off the field and assessing him, we realised that he was at risk of this particular rare condition. He was taken straight to Vincent Pallotti hospital where he had a vascular surgeon waiting and he was operated on that night.
“It’s very unusual, very rare, but they had to cut through the muscle to release the pressure and they were only able to close that leg ten days after his initial injury. He is recovering well and we expect him to be back, based on the surgeon’s report, at around three months.”
Stormers boss John Dobson paid tribute to Suter, saying: “Doc deserves enormous credit for Pieter-Steph. Had a rugby player lost his leg it would have been devastating for the game. If it wasn’t for the timely intervention then I think (he could have lost his leg)… almost half of the 43 reported cases had resulted in that.”
The Stormers have a long list of key players currently out injured, including Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and Test hooker Bongi Mbonambi. Suter said: “Siya Kolisi is recovering really well. He is four weeks away from return-to-play. His was a ten-twelve week injury – a grade three medial collateral ligament tear.
“Bongi tore off his hamstring. That was a surgical case and at this stage he is on track, he is doing well. However, it was a severe injury and he is expected to be out – from the time of injury – for between four and five months.”
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