Gavin Rich - SuperSport
The long awaited return to the playing field of regular Stormers captain Schalk Burger won’t be happening this week against the Lions, and may not be happening any time soon.
According to a report on SuperSport, the Stormers management have confirmed that Burger is still struggling with the knee injury that has kept him out since an early stage of the opening Super Rugby match against the Hurricanes at Newlands in February.
Burger was making good progress before the break for the international season, but apparently he is feeling pain in his knee again, and may not be back for a few weeks.
That is bad news for the Stormers as it looks like they will still be facing a loose-forward crisis as a result. Duane Vermeulen won’t be back from his injury until the final league game against the Rebels at the earliest, while Nick Koster is also set to miss this week’s match after initially being given the prognosis that he would be ready.
And with Rynhardt Elstadt, who has been solid for the Stormers at No 7, out for one match due to suspension, it leaves the Cape team in a big hole when it comes to the back-row, with Canadian Jebb Sinclair and Siya Kolisi having to be joined one of Don Armand or, if rumour is to be believed, Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth, on the other flank.
Etzebeth playing flank will be made possible if Andries Bekker, who has made an impressive recovery from injury and looks likely to return to the playing field earlier than predicted, proves his readiness over the next few days.
The Stormers can probably afford to drop one of their remaining three matches and still win the South African conference in Super Rugby, but they will be wanting to start of the closing sequence of matches in the league phase with a win as they face a potentially difficult away game against the Cheetahs the following week.