Schalk: Forget RWC for now
Cape Town – Never mind 100 days before the Rugby World Cup, there is just one day to go before a Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Melbourne Rebels!
That was the attitude of Stormers captain Schalk Burger when he was asked on Wednesday about the intensity of the remaining South African derbies in the build-up to this year’s global showpiece in New Zealand.
“At the end of the day we’re in the middle of a Super Rugby tournament and that is what is important. Every player wants to make the World Cup squad, but that is still some time away,” said Burger.
“We have a good chance of qualifying for the play-offs and from a player’s perspective the focus is just on the next weekend.”
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee made the surprise announcement that Springbok lock Andries Bekker is relegated to the substitutes bench for Friday’s game. Anton van Zyl will wear the No 5 jersey.
Tiaan Liebenberg also gets game time at hooker in place of Deon Fourie, while Jean de Villiers returns at inside centre and Juan de Jongh will be on the bench.
Ricky Januarie, who is reportedly in negotiations with French club side Lyon to continue his career there, will play scrumhalf in place of the injured Dewaldt Duvenage.
Duane Vermeulen will also start at No 8 again after Nick Koster was utilised there against the Brumbies last weekend.
The Stormers denied that Bekker was being rested with the specific purpose of ensuring that he’s fit for next Saturday’s match against the Bulls at Newlands.
Duvenage, flyhalf Peter Grant and Springbok tighthead prop CJ van der Linde may return against the Bulls.
“It’s definitely not the case,” said Burger when asked whether Bekker was being rested for the Bulls game.
“We still have a very good side. There are injuries and it’s important to keep players fresh. We did the same with Duane last weekend. The tournament is long and it’s not a matter of us already looking ahead to the Bulls game.”
The decision to hand De Villiers the No 12 jersey again was made to ensure that there is an experienced player next to young flyhalf Kurt Coleman.
“Juan de Jongh played very well against the Brumbies. The reason I picked Jean is to have an experienced player to help Kurt,” said Coetzee.
Meanwhile, English flyhalf Danny Cipriani will not be in action against the Stormers this weekend after all. Julian Huxley will wear the Rebels’ No 10 jersey.
Wallaby hooker Adam Freier is set to debut for the Rebels off the bench.
In a surprise move All Black prop Greg Somervlle was only picked on the bench and Nic Henderson will wear the No 1 jersey.
“If you read through the names it’s not a bad side,” said Burger.
“There are guys like Stirling Mortlock and Mark Gerrard, while Michael Lipman has played for England.”
15 Richard Kingi, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13
Mark Gerrard, 12 Stirling Mortlock (captain), 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Julian
Huxley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Jarrod Saffy,
5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Alister Campbell, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic
Substitutes: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Greg Somerville, 18
Kevin O’Neill, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Sam Cordingley, 21 Peter Betham, 22
15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Gio
Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Kurt
Coleman, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk
Burger (captain), 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Brok Harris, 2
Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Wicus Blaauw
Substitutes: 16 Deon Fourie, 17
Frans Malherbe, 18 Andries Bekker 19 Nick Koster, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21
Earl Rose, 22 Juan de Jongh