Stormers chew on Jean, Schalk

2012-11-28 15:10
Jean de Villiers (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The Stormers’ brains trust continue to play a waiting game in terms of who will captain the side in the 2013 Super Rugby season.

Head coach Allister Coetzee held a media briefing at Newlands on Wednesday, shedding some light on plans for the new campaign by the SA conference winners from last season, but the big “Jean de Villiers v Schalk Burger” dilemma remains on hold.

Last year, abrasive Springbok loose forward Burger was the designated captain but suffered a knee injury early in the year which has ruled him out of all rugby since then.

But he is firmly on the mend and it appears as if he will be ready for the start of the 2013 programme.

In his absence, fellow Newlands veteran De Villiers comfortably assumed the reins and the blond midfielder also captained the Boks throughout the Test season - he has had a ringing endorsement from national coach Heyneke Meyer for keeping the mantle next year.

“I’m on holiday,” Coetzee joked as he faced the media corps and was quickly asked for his captaincy plans. “I’ve got to think about these things.

“Look, we’ve already had a planning session with Schalk, and obviously Jean (on the successful Bok end-of-year tour at the time) wasn’t there.

“I will speak to both of them and the management and senior players, and then make my decision; it is still way too early.

“Schalk has been part of our (pre-season) planning - he’s part of the leadership team and will always be there.”

Asked whether De Villiers’s anticipated retention of the Bok leadership would affect his own intentions, Coetzee said: “No, I am happy if Jean gets the (Bok) nod, you know. I think it’s probably the right thing to do; he’s done an outstanding job this year.

“Our situation is obviously completely different being a franchise set-up.”

He admitted the Stormers had a “tough start” with away derbies against the Bulls and Sharks, followed by their first home game against defending champions the Chiefs.

They intend playing pre-season friendlies against neighbours Boland - the now customary away one - and also a likely fellow-Super Rugby side yet to be decided.

Coetzee revealed that hooker Tiaan Liebenberg and prop Deon Carstens would probably not rejoin the squad’s plans until mid-February, while they rehabilitate from injuries, and that promising centre Marcel Brache, who has had a neck operation, may be sidelined for five or six months yet.

“The players who toured (Ireland the UK) with the Boks have a mandatory four-week rest now.

“I will try to keep their conditioning the same as last year; it is important they have a proper conditioning phase and if Jean or Duane (Vermeulen) or Eben (Etzebeth) needs until January 14 to start work with us, that is (in order).”

Tough utility forward Rynhardt Elstadt, who had several injury setbacks last season, is also encouragingly on the mend.

“We had to hold Rynhardt back; he wasn’t supposed to gym (so soon) and we had to explain the programme to him again!”

Meanwhile it appears versatile front-ranker JC Kritzinger, who has been wretchedly plagued by serious knee and other injuries, will be released to get back into studies on a full-time basis.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

HAVE YOUR SAY: If you are a Stormers fan who would you like to see as their captain next season? Jean de Villiers, Schalk Burger or maybe Deon Fourie? Send your thoughts to Sport24.


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