Burger boost for Stormers

Schalk Burger returns to face the Lions as the Stormers anticipate a massive breakdown onslaught.

Burger’s calf strain prevented him from starting at Loftus, but the Stormers medical staff has given him the green light for Saturday’s fixture at Newlands. Adriaan Fondse returns to the second row while JD Moller is back in the mix albeit from the bench.

“AJ had a good run at Loftus last week,” Rassie Erasmus told keo.co.za. “This is our first-choice lock combination, but it was important that AJ got game time. It’s a long competition and you never know when there will be injuries, so when the next guy steps in you have to ensure he has had a run.”

The Stormers are expecting a big battle in the forwards, but Erasmus stands by his decision to keep Wicus Blaauw in the starting side.

“The Lions are a very strong scrumming unit and all in all they have a good pack. We’ve decided to leave JD on the bench this week, and I think the real pressure will come on the tighthead side as Heinke van der Merwe is starting at loosehead for the Lions. Heinke is a really strong player.

“If I think about it, I can’t think of any area where the Lions are weak. Their lineout stats aren’t great but they always seem to do well against us, and at the breakdown guys like Baywatch [Grobbelaar] are very dangerous.”

Erasmus has also retained Willem de Waal at flyhalf suggesting the Stormers will opt to play conservatively in the opening 40 minutes. Rookie winger Nick Koster will keep his place despite Sireli Naqelevuki’s return. Springbok Tonderai Chavhanga is the man who is relegated to the bench.

“Nick needs to get game time at this level and we thought it may be easier if he features against the South African teams first. You’ll find Tondie is back in the mix for the next game.

“It was unfortunate that Sireli got that rib injury in the preseason. It was always going to be a two to six week recovery period, but this week I can honestly say he’s 100% fit and ready to start.”

Stormers - Percy Montgomery, Nick Koster, Gcobani Bobo, Jean de Villiers (c), Sireli Naqelevuki, Willem de Waal, Ricky Januarie, Luke Watson, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, Andries Bekker, Adriaan Fondse, Brian Mujati, Schalk Brits, Wicus Blaauw.
Subs: Deon Fourie, JD Moller, AJ Venter, Francois Louw, Dewaldt Duvenhage, Peter Grant, Tonderai Chavhanga.

By Jon Cardinelli