Stormers: Why Schalk isn't captain

Schalk Burger (Gallo Images)
Schalk Burger (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - In his last Super Rugby season with the Stormers, there were many who thought Schalk Burger would take over the captaincy from Duane Vermeulen in 2016. 

On the surface it appeared the most logical decision, with the 32-year-old Burger having turned out for the Stormers in Super Rugby on more than 100 occasions. 

But the decision from coach Robbie Fleck on Tuesday was to announce Juan de Jongh and Frans Malherbe as co-captains for the season

The idea, says Fleck, is that the Stormers are a young bunch in 2016 and in sharing the leadership they can be more effective. 

"To be captain of this franchise is a huge honour but there is a lot on it. It’s sharing the load," said Fleck.

"The most important thing is that these guys are standout individuals in our group.'

Fleck says that De Jongh (28-years-old on March 15) and Malherbe (25 on March 14) are "great human beings" who "personify what our team is about".

"They think the same in terms of rugby … they think the same as I do, outside the box, and I think they are experienced enough of add massive value to this campaign," the coach added. 

Burger, meanwhile, will remain a key leadership figure at Newlands this season and Fleck went out of his way to explain why the 86-Test Springbok veteran had not been given the captaincy.

"A lot of people spoke about him as being the potential captain and we’re definitely going to tap into that experience," Fleck said.

"He’s got massive value to add. We all know he’s going to Saracens and the thinking behind that is that we want to free him up.

"It’s his last season with us and we want him to enjoy his rugby … it’s his last six months with us and we want him to be playing his best and not worry about too much pressure outside the group of having to handle the group."

Fleck said that he had spoken to Burger about the decision at length.

"He’ll be backing these two guys up and he’s got huge value to add," said the coach.

"We want him to enjoy himself and he’s totally bought into that and he’s really excited about the new role."

Malherbe has long been tipped as a future leader at Newlands, and he is particularly pleased to have Burger around for one more season.

"Schalk and I are very good friends off the rugby field as well, which helps a lot," said Malherbe.

"I’ll always go to him for advice … he has a whole season with us. That’s a massive positive for me and I’m really looking forward to playing with him and learning from him."

The Stormers start their Super Rugby campaign against the Bulls in Cape Town on February 27.

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