Rugby

Schalk, Duane: WP before SA?

2012-08-01 14:13
Schalk Burger (Gallo)
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

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