Schalk back in touring Bok squad

2009-08-10 00:00

SCHALK Burger, the Springbok flank who was suspended for eight weeks following the second Test against the British Lions, returns to the Tri-Nations squad for the three-Test tour of Australia and New Zealand later this month.

Burger, the enthusiastic world-rated loose forward, is by no means certain to play in the remaining Tests following the remarkable form shown by his replacement Heinrich Brüssow, who has added a new dimension to the Springboks’ play at the breakdown. In his most recent Tests, Brüssow has more than matched the world’s top open-side flanks, George Smith (Australia) and Richie McCaw (New Zealand). There has been some speculation that Burger may be used in place of the tall and productive Juan Smith, but the Free Stater has also shown improved form in recent weeks.

Burger’s lack of game time because of injury and suspension will initially count against him and it seems likely that at most he will start off the bench in the next Test against Australia in Perth on August 29.

Bok coach Peter de Villiers added five players to Saturday’s match 22 at Newlands, with Burger, Bulls centre Wynand Olivier, loosehead prop Gurthrö Steenkamp and the two Sharks, number eight Ryan Kankowski and wing Odwa Ndungane, back in the squad.

The inclusion of Ndungane and Kankowski will be met with mixed feelings at King’s Park, where the Sharks’ reserve strength is being severely tested. The Sharks, like the Blue Bulls, have 10 players in the tour party with WP (four), Free State (two) and the Lions (one) providing the balance.

The squad leaves South Africa on August 24. Their first game is on August 29 against the Wallabies in Perth. A week later, they meet Australia again, this time in Brisbane, before concluding the tour in Hamilton against the All Blacks on September 12.

SPRINGBOK TOUR SQUAD

Forwards: John Smit (Sharks, captain), Victor Matfield (Bulls, vice-captain), Andries Bekker (WP), Bakkies Botha (Bulls), Heinrich Brüssow (Free State), Schalk Burger (WP), Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks), Jannie du Plessis (Sharks), Ryan Kankowski (Sharks), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Chiliboy Ralepelle (Bulls), Danie Rossouw (Bulls), Juan Smith (Free State), Pierre Spies (Bulls), Gurthrö Steenkamp (Bulls).

Backs: Jean de Villiers (WP), Fourie du Preez (Bulls), Jaque Fourie (Lions), Bryan Habana (Bulls), Adi Jacobs (Sharks), Ricky Januarie (WP), Odwa Ndungane (Sharks), Wynand Olivier (Bulls), Ruan Pienaar (Sharks), JP Pietersen (Sharks), Frans Steyn (Sharks), Morné Steyn (Bulls).

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