Injuries have wreaked havoc with interim Isuzu Southern Kings coach Robbi Kempson’s planning in the early part of the season, and if Penxe wins his race against time to be fit, it will give the Eastern Cape outfit a necessary boost.
“We are hoping to have Yaw back next week, and there is a chance that he could be, but at this point it still looks a bit unlikely,” said Kempson.
The Isuzu Southern Kings depart for Ireland on Monday for what will mark their second overseas tour – albeit a short one of only a week - and the main areas of concern for Kempson are at scrumhalf and in the front-row.
Fortunately for the coach, Stefan Ungerer (scrumhalf) is returning from injury after replacement No 9 Sarel Pretorius was left as the last fit scrumhalf after Josh Aldermann left the field early against Ospreys two weeks ago.
“At this stage we are down to just one scrumhalf, so it will be good to have Stefan back next week and hopefully available to play,” said Kempson.
The team was penalised heavily in the scrums against Ospreys – a factor Kempson attributed partly to their thin front-row resources due to of injury.
“We have seven props out, including our three frontline looseheads if you factor in Schalk Ferreira, and that has been particularly problematic, as you would have seen in the Ospreys game,” he said. “On top of that, hooker Elandre van Rooyen is also doubtful for the Connacht game.”
Cell C Sharks prop Juan Schoeman has joined the Isuzu Southern Kings on loan, but he is set to return to Durban after next weekend’s outing against Connacht to begin preparations for the Vodacom Super Rugby competition, while veteran Phakisa Pumas prop, De-Jay Terblanche - who is also on loan - will be available for the next two games.
With a four-week festive season break after the clash against Connacht, Kempson was hopeful that the bulk of his injured front-row players would return to the field for their clash against Edinburgh early in January. Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis is also in a race against time to recover from a hip flexor injury, although Kempson was doubtful that he would be fit for the match.
Despite the injury concerns, the coach was heartened by the way his players played for each other to secure their first away-win in the competition against Ospreys.
“It was a gutsy performance,” said Kempson. “I am relatively pleased with how we are tracking.
“We were unlucky in the first two games, but then Ulster were very good when they faced us in Port Elizabeth and we had a bit of a blow out against Glasgow.
“Our defence was outstanding against the Ospreys and more of that will hold us in good stead going forward.”
He added: “The biggest area that requires an improvement is obviously our first-phase play. We need to give our talented backs attacking opportunities, which is something we are not doing at the moment. We also need to play the territory game better overseas and take our chances when they come, as such chances are few in the Guinness PRO14.”
Kempson will name his squad for their trip to Ireland on Thursday.