Stormers’ Burger is keen to avenge previous losses to Sharks

2011-03-31 00:00

BRAWNY Springbok flank Schalk Burger returns to captain the Stormers and beef up their pack for Saturday’s Super Rugby derby against the Sharks at King’s Park.

Burger has been sidelined with a knee injury since the Stormers’ first game against the Lions and he said yesterday that he was relishing the opportunity of mixing it with the Sharks on Saturday.

In the other significant change to the team which thumped the Force 51-16 at Newlands last weekend, physical young lock Rynhardt Elstadt returns from injury and replaces De Kock Steenkamp while Burger takes over from injured flank Pieter Louw.

“It is really good to be back after a break and I am looking forward to the game a lot,” Burger told reporters at the team’s announcement in Cape Town yesterday.

The Sharks always present a big physical challenge to us, and we have fresh memories of what happened to us on our last few visits to Durban, when we were out-muscled and outplayed physically in both the Currie Cup final and in the Super 14 league game.

“I may not be quite as sharp as I could be, but I am really looking forward to getting back.”

Burger had his ribs broken in a fair but heavy tackle by Willem Alberts in the Currie Cup final last year — he missed the Bok tour of the UK as a result — but said victory was more important that any personal battle.

“What we have to do against the Sharks is the same as what we did against the Bulls.

“We need to stand up to them physically at the breakdowns and at the first phases early on and get into the game that way. It is a very similar challenge for us as the Loftus match.”

Burger said the Sharks were in good form in spite of their loss to the Crusaders on Sunday.

“Against a lesser defence than the Crusaders I reckon they would have won that match at Twickenham.

“There were a lot of aspects of their game that were right in that match. They have a really strong back-row and generally their pack works well together.”

Sharks head coach John Plumtree said the return of Burger was a major boost for the Stormers.

“He brings experience and leadership to their squad and he’s a world-class player.

“He hasn’t played for a while so he’ll be fresh and he’ll be delighted to rejoin the team when they’re top of log and things are going well.”

Plumtree added that Burger will “feel a sense of responsibility to have a big game” against the Sharks.

The Sharks coach said the Stormers would use their losses in Durban last year as motivating factors.

“They will have memories of last year and that’s what makes this contest so appealing for the fans. I hope we get a good crowd for this weekend.”

The Sharks are waiting on the fitness of flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter and will name their team today. Somehow they surely have to squeeze loosehead Beast Mtawarira into a big-name front-row which under-performed in the scrums at Twickenham on Sunday.

The match kicks off at 5.05 pm on Saturday.


Stormers team: Gio Aplon, Danie Poolman, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Peter Grant, Dewaldt Duvenage, Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger (captain), Andries Bekker, Rynhardt Elstadt, Brok Harris, Deon Fourie, Wicus Blaauw.

Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, CJ van der Linde, De Kock Steenkamp, Nick Koster, Ricky Januarie, Gary van Aswegen, Juan de Jongh.

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