Stormers deny Luke axing

The Stormers rubbished allegations that a final decision has been made on next year’s team captain.

The Cape Argus reported Watson will not resume the captaincy and World Cup-winner Schalk Burger, also a specialist opensider, is touted as his successor.

However, a statement was released clarifying that “a decision will only be made in December after proper consultation between the coach, management and relevant senior players.”

The statement called the newspaper article speculative and claims that no such decisions have been made at this stage

Watson was first made skipper in last year’s Currie Cup despite his young age (22). Then coach Kobus van der Merwe retained his services in the Super 14, but a rib injury prevented Watson from playing the majority of this year’s domestic competition.

Watson incurred the injury in his Springbok debut against Samoa. The young No 6 was expected to join South Africa on the away leg of the Tri-Nations, but the rib ailment prevented his involvement.

Van der Merwe started both Watson and Burger in the 2006 Super 14, employing a left-right flanking strategy. Time will tell if new coach Rassie Erasmus will consider this tactic, or whether he will try shifting one of these players to No 8. Erasmus did this with Ryno van der Merwe when he coached the Cheetahs, maximising Van der Merwe’s talents on the deck.

However, Watson will be competing against the likes of Justin Melck and Joe van Niekerk, who could be contracted to the franchise after his deal with Northampton fell through for medical reasons. Former Gloucester captain Jake Boer played a few games for Province this season and is likely to feature in the squad as well. Robbie Diack will also be in the mix.

The pre-season training squad will be announced next week after the contracted players’ list is finalised on Friday.