Talismanic flanker Schalk Burger has been ruled out of the Super 14 due to a knee injury.
Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus confirmed Burger damaged knee ligaments in Saturday’s win over the Highlanders and will be sidelined for at least six weeks. Flyhalf Tony Brown will also undergo scans to assess a rib injury that caused him to leave the field after 26 minutes.
“It’s very sad, but it’s something we’ll have to deal with,” said Erasmus. “I have massive faith in our depth. A guy like Pieter Myburgh played his first game against the Crusaders a few weeks ago and he’ll now come into the mix.”
Erasmus is hopeful that Brown will be cleared of broken ribs to feature in next week’s game against the Brumbies.
The Stormers recently lost Tonderai Chavhanga and JD Moller to injury after the win to the Hurricanes. Erasmus also elected to make four other changes for the Highlanders fixture which effected the team’s rhythm, especially in the first half.
“This was a game where we looked to rest a few guys, and we expected a few hiccups in the first half,” Erasmus said. “When Tony and Schalk left the field that disrupted our plans.”
The Stormers beat the Highlanders 26-16, but a last-minute try flattered the visitors. The Stormers regret not scoring four tries, which coupled with the win would have seen them sitting in third place on the Super 14 log.
“A win is always first prize and in that respect, we’re satisfied. We had a good second half and it was encouraging to see how we upped our game.
“But we are disappointed to miss out on the four tries. We weren’t accurate enough in the first half. It wasn’t for lack of enthusiasm, it was more small technical issues. They contested well, and weren’t direct enough on attack. We shifted it from side to side which suited them pretty well.”
Erasmus was reluctant to say a bad word about referee James Leckie’s performance. The Stormers have two wins after two games with Leckie at the helm, but there have been some dubious calls, particularly at the tackle point.
Highlanders captain Craig Newby refrained from attacking Leckie directly, but did express his concern over the officiating.
“Should I put my head out and pay my fine now?” he quipped. “We tried to maintain our discipline, and it was pretty frustrating when he stopped communicating with us towards the end.
“To be fair, every ref is under pressure in those big games. We were just on the wrong side of the penalty and free-kick count.”
By Jon Cardinelli