Vodacom Super Rugby
Burger expects loose-trio war
Cape Town – The last time Schalk Burger visited the Shark Tank his ribs were hurt so badly by Willem Alberts that he was ruled out of the Springbok tour to Britain and Ireland.
Of course, that kind of thing happens on a rugby field and the Stormers captain will not take to the field with any hard feelings in the Super Rugby match against the Sharks on Saturday.
Burger and the rest of the Stormers know from experience that a match against the Sharks poses enormous physical, tactical and technical challenges. And those are challenges that Western Province and the Stormers were unable to meet in their matches in Durban last year.
The Sharks beat the Stormers 20-14 last year and Western Province 30-10 in the Currie Cup final.
“Last year is still fresh in the memory,” the Stormers’ returning captain said on Wednesday.
“We were outplayed and out-muscled in both games there. It’s probably a similar psychological barrier to the one we faced against the Bulls.
“You have to be competitive in the set phases and start well. It is, of course, much easier said than done. The Sharks are an excellent team and notoriously difficult to beat in Durban.”
The Stormers team heading for Durban shows a number of important changes to the WP one that was humiliated there in October.
For example, Peter Grant is at flyhalf, Andries Bekker at lock and Jaque Fourie at outside centre. All three starred in last week’s 51-16 win over the Western Force.
With the Sharks possibly set to pick a loose-trio of Alberts, Keegan Daniel and Ryan Kankowski, the battle with Burger, Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen can potentially get fierce.
Alberts was one of the stars on the Springbok tour at the end of last year and has carried that form into Super Rugby.
While Alberts is a tough defender - something Burger has first-hand knowledge of - he is particularly difficult to stop when he gains speed with the ball tucked under his arm.
“They probably have one of the best loose forward combination's in the competition. The Sharks have an excellent pack of forwards,” said Burger.
“If your pack does well, it gives your loose forwards a better chance of performing.”
The Stormers, of course, will also draw a lot of inspiration from Burger’s return. He is an icon of South African rugby and commands respect across the world with his all-action approach to the game.
Burger has recovered from his knee injury and replaces the injured Pieter Louw in the starting line-up, with Nick Koster on the bench.
Lock Rynhardt Elstadt is also fit again and in the starting line-up after missing the game against the Force with an ankle injury.
De Kock Steenkamp therefore moves down to the bench.
Elstadt is also a physical player and can be of great value against a team like the Sharks.
15. Gio Aplon, 14.
Danie Poolman, 13. Jaque Fourie, 12. Jean De Villiers, 11. Bryan Habana,
10. Peter Grant, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Duane Vermuelen, 7. Francois
Louw, 6. Schalk Burger (captain), 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Rynhardt
Elstadt, 3. Brok Harris, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Wicus Blaauw
16. Ethienne Reynecke, 17. CJ Van Der Linde, 18. De Kock Steenkamp, 19.
Nick Koster, 20. Ricky Januarie, 21. Gary Van Aswegen, 22. Juan De