Gavin Rich, SuperSport
Cape Town - Schalk Burger recognises that a win by his Stormers team in Saturday’s final Super Rugby league match against the Cell C Sharks at Newlands will be the reversal of what he sees as the trend for the Cape side in special occasion games.
The supersport.com website reports that the Stormers skipper is revving up his players to give the players who will be playing their last match for their franchise the winning send-off they deserve.
With Gio Aplon, Deon Fourie and Peter Grant all heading for France after Saturday, the Stormers will be saying goodbye to a truckload of experience and also, as Burger remarked, a lot of cherished memories.
"At end of the day this game is all about giving those players a special send-off, but they will be the first to say that it should not be about them," said Burger.
"But that has been our attitude in the past when we have played marquee games, and it hasn’t worked.
"We have tended to come off second best in the big occasion matches.
"When I played my 50th game we lost, when Jean de Villiers played his 50th and his 100th we lost, and that seems to have been the trend, so maybe we should do it differently this time.
"Whatever happens, on Sunday we are going to get together to give those players a proper send-off.
"I am sure we will drink a lot of coffee and tea, and maybe eat some scones," added the grinning Stormers captain.
"They are all quality individuals who we will miss.
"They’ve been good mates for a long time and outstanding contributors to the Stormers’ cause.
"They are all quality people and I am sorry to see them go.
"However, they will take with them some really great memories."
Of course Burger himself is off to Japan after this, but he will be back in 2015 for Super Rugby as he feels he has unfinished business in Super Rugby, a competition he has never won and which he would dearly love to taste success by way of a trophy.
Burger identified the breakdown as a key area where the Stormers need to be accurate against the Sharks, who he rates as the best South African team in the competition when it comes to breakdown proficiency.
"We have done really well in the breakdowns in the last while and much of the good rugby we have played has been down to that.
"We are fortunate in that we have quite a few players who are naturally talented in the art of securing the ball at the breakdown, and we also have forwards who enjoy playing to the ball.
"But the Sharks are the best South African team when it comes to the breakdown, so we are going to have to lift to a different level when we play against them.
"They put a lot of pressure on at the breakdown, and it is going to be tough for us to get our ball back quickly, like we have been doing."
Burger repeated what he said after the win over the Bulls about this match not being about the Stormers wanting to ruin the Sharks’ season.
He stressed that the focus was purely on the Stormers satisfying the pride in the jersey and the expectations of the fans by producing a strong finish to the season which could be a confidence booster for the domestic season that starts on 8 August.
"We have been in the situation the Sharks are in now in some recent seasons, where you need to beat another local team to qualify for the play-offs in a strong position, and it is difficult as you know the other team is determined to end the season on a high in front of their home fans," said Burger.
"But it is not about us beating them.
"It is about us playing to our potential and showing pride in the jersey.
"It’s about us wanting to end the season on a high so that the Western Province team can take some confidence into the Currie Cup."
Burger said his men were well aware that they may have caught the Sharks a bit off-guard in the first round game at Kings Park, which the Stormers won through a late drop-goal from fullback Jaco Taute.
"One of the reasons players don’t like the double round of derby fixtures is that it tends to turn the return game into a revenge match.
"This season we have beaten all the teams we lost to in the first round, so we know what it is about.
"The Sharks will still be smarting over what happened to them in Durban and we know they will hit us with full force in this game.
"We’ll have to be up to the challenge."
15. Jaco Taute, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Sailosi Tagicakibau, 12. Juan de Jongh, 11. Cheslin Kolbe, 10. Kurt Coleman, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Schalk Burger (captain), 6. Nizaam Carr, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Michael Rhodes, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1. Alistair Vermaak
Substitutes: 16. Stephan Coetzee, 17. Sti Sithole, 18. Martin Dreyer, 19. Manuel Carizza, 20. Siya Kolisi, 21. Louis Schreuder, 22. Peter Grant, 23. Seabelo Senatla