Burger is back for injured Louw

2014-09-18 00:00

THE familiar sight of Schalk Burger’s mop of blond hair will once again be seen in a Springbok team as he rejoins the squad at the end of the week.

Burger has been called up to the team after Bath-based flank Francois Louw was ruled out of the remainder of the Rugby Championship with a pinched nerve in his neck.

Louw picked up the injury in the Boks’ 14-10 loss to the All Blacks last weekend and Springbok doctor Craig Roberts confirmed he will be out for eight weeks. He could still play in the November outgoing tour of Europe.

Despite the loss, the inclusion of Burger will be a boost for the Boks as his experience and fervour in the contact make him the ideal replacement.

If it were not for his new club commitments in Japan, Burger could have been an integral part of the Bok set-up in the Rugby Championship. But the former Western Province captain joined Suntory Sungoliath after the Super Rugby, ruling him out of selection. He will play for Suntory tomorrow night and join the Bok squad in Cape Town afterwards.

Burger last played for the Boks in June, which marked his return after a three-year absence from the national side due to injury and serious illness.

“With Willem Alberts still out injured, Schalk’s versatility helps as he can cover any position in the loose trio. He is also very experienced, brings leadership qualities and has been with us so he will slot back in easily,” said Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.

With two must-win games left in the Championship, a player of his calibre will settle some of the younger members in the Bok squad.

“Schalk played a superb role in June mentoring the younger players in the squad, and he’ll be able to carry on with that, especially with players such as Warren Whiteley and Oupa Mohoje, who has shown massive improvement after playing in only a handful of Vodacom Super Rugby matches and making his Test debut earlier this season.”

It will be interesting to see if Mohoje gets a run in the starting line-up considering Meyer’s praise, or if Burger is fast-tracked into the starting line-up.

Siya Kolisi was also considered to replace Louw, but he was also injured last weekend in the Currie Cup.

The Boks have been hit hard with injuries this season and a new addition to the list is Ruan Pienaar. A scan on Monday confirmed he will miss up to six weeks of rugby with an MCL sprain in his knee.

Following injury concerns in other positions, Lwazi Mvovo was released to the Sharks for the week. He will join the Bok squad on Sunday again.

In the next two weeks, players not included in the 26-man Bok match-day squads for the Australia and All Black Tests will be released in the middle of the week to join their Currie Cup teams.

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