Schalk Burger missed Tuesday afternoon’s training session but is still expected to lead the Stormers this Saturday.
Burger injured his shoulder in the 14th minute of last week’s clash with Boland and was unable to complete the match. The Springbok flanker missed the first warm-up because of a haematoma and only played 40 minutes of the second, so there are valid concerns ahead of the season opener at Ellis Park. Apart from going into the Lions match with a niggle, Burger is short on game time.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee told keo.co.za last Saturday the injury wasn’t serious. On Tuesday, he was still adamant Burger will start at Ellis Park.
‘He looked good on Tuesday morning and the news is his shoulder is only bruised. There’s no torn ligaments and no long term damage. I just want to give my captain as long as possible to recover ahead of this weekend,’ Coetzee told this website.
‘I don’t even want to go into talk about cover for Schalk at openside. That’s how confident I am he’ll be fit to play.’
Centre Paul Bosch has been ruled out for six to eight weeks while Francois Louw is the latest injury concern. Coetzee confirmed Louw’s niggle isn’t serious and he should be alright to partner Burger in the back row.
The starting XV will be named on Thursday but the management has already settled on a match 22. Those who don’t form part of this group, namely Willem de Waal, Frikkie Welsh, Fabian Juries, Pieter Myburgh and Ryno Elstadt, have all been released to play in a Vodacom Cup friendly match against the Eagles this weekend.
Peter Grant will start at flyhalf and is likely to be partnered by Dewaldt Duvenage at halfback. Coetzee wouldn’t confirm the benching of Bok scrumhalf Ricky Januarie, but suggested the latter player is second in the No 9 pecking order.
‘We have two great scrumhalves. Ricky started the Super 14 last year, but went off the boil. Duveys [Duvenage] upped his game and took his opportunity and is now an important part of our system.
‘I’ve been impressed with the form Ricky has shown for the Ospreys and on return to the Stormers. He’s an experienced player and he’s a fighter. As he’s said himself, he’s a brand new Ricky. It’s a great attitude and I know he’s very keen to get his position back.’
Probable Stormers – 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Subs: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 JC Kritzinger, 18 Anton van Zyl, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Sireli Naqelevuki.
By Jon Cardinelli