Schalk, Duane: WP before SA?
Cape Town - Established Springbok loose forward favourite
Schalk Burger and Test wannabe Duane Vermeulen are likely to be given Currie
Cup game-time for Western Province, rather than experience any fast-tracking to
the Bok squad during the early stages of the Castle Rugby Championship.
That is apparent after a message on Wednesday on the
official Province website (wprugby.com) from coach Allister Coetzee.
In it Coetzee, as mortified as anyone at Newlands after a
fruitful Super Rugby campaign suddenly derailed with a bump in the semi-final
against the Sharks, wrote: “We have to move on (and) the Currie Cup is a great
opportunity for us to change our focus and get back on the bike, so to speak.”
But he also revealed: “I spoke to (Bok coach) Heyneke Meyer
earlier in the week and he says both Schalk and Duane are in his plans, but I
imagine they’d have to play some Currie Cup rugby first to prove themselves.”
Both have been laid low for months with knee injuries, and
although Vermeulen, in particular, was recently considered to have a chance of
seeing some Super Rugby playoff action, nothing came of it.
And neither of the pair, who would challenge strongly for
Bok involvement in the new four-nation southern hemisphere Test competition if
fully fit, is yet back in full contact training anyway.
Coetzee said on the site: “It’s safe to assume we’ll
definitely lose Eben (Etzebeth), Andries (Bekker), Bryan (Habana) and Jean (de
Villiers) to the national team, so it would be great to have Schalla and Duane
available at some point.
“Duane is not that far from taking a full part in training,
whereas Schalk could be a bit longer, but we will be monitoring them both and,
with a bit of luck, could have them in WP colours during the Currie Cup.”
WP start their campaign at Newlands on August 11, ironically
against the very Sharks who caused the Super Rugby heartbreak last Saturday.
Meyer, meanwhile, names his first Castle Championship squad
at Worcester on Saturday afternoon.
The squad, initially without its Sharks contingent,
assembles in Cape Town on Sunday, just under a fortnight ahead of the opening
fixture against Argentina at Newlands on August 18.
*Follow our chief
writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing