Schalk all-clear for Stormers tour
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – Schalk Burger, easily the Stormers’ most experienced player, has been passed fit for the vital conclusion to their ordinary-season programme in Vodacom Super Rugby 2016.
The three-game run-in to their quest to make the knockout phase begins with a two-match trek to Australia to play the Rebels in Melbourne (July 2) and Force in Perth (July 9).
It then concludes with a home derby against the Kings on July 16 – which would be the final appearance at his beloved Newlands of yeoman servant Burger, 33, should they fail to tee up a home quarter-final by winning Africa Conference 1.
The Stormers currently top the standings in the group by four points from the Bulls.
Springbok loose forward dynamo Burger, who first donned a Stormers jersey in 2004, is in his final season of Super Rugby and joins Saracens thereafter on a two-year deal.
Fans of the franchise may just have feared the possibility that Burger had already played his last match in the shadow of Table Mountain, when it was revealed in late May that an ankle injury he picked up against the Bulls at Loftus was worse than expected, ruling him out of contention for the entire Bok series against Ireland and potentially endangering his last few weeks of Super Rugby.
But a Stormers spokesperson confirmed to Sport24 on Wednesday: “Schalk is currently training with the team and is available for selection for the touring squad to Australia.”
It is not yet known whether Bok coach Allister Coetzee, who had the famously durable Burger as his captain during periods of his tenure at the Stormers, intends making further use of the versatile loosie at international level.
But stranger have happened than for 86-cap Burger to be summoned to duty in the Rugby Championship; the Boks have missed his mongrel-like energy against the Irish thus far, and played worrying second fiddle in areas like the breakdown over the first two Tests.
*The Stormers party to travel abroad is to be announced on Monday.
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