Johannesburg – Springboks Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger will head up the Stormers' leadership group in the 2014 Super Rugby season, coach Allister Coetzee announced on Wednesday.
De Villiers, who has led the Springboks with success in 2012 and 2013, will again captain the Stormers this season, while Burger, who is back to full health and fitness, will serve as his vice-captain.
“Jean and Schalk are both top-class rugby players and leaders, who also happen to be very close friends, dating back to their school days,” Coetzee told iamastormer.com.
“But, most importantly, Jean and Schalk understand the Stormers' culture well.... They believe in our philosophy and what we're trying to achieve with this squad.”
Between them, De Villiers (96) and Burger (88) boast over 180 games of Super Rugby experience.
The duo also have a combined tally of 164 Springbok appearances, with De Villiers on 96 caps for his country and Burger on 68.
The Stormers start their 2014 Super Rugby campaign against the Lions on February 22, before facing the Hurricanes at home at Newlands the following Friday.
The Cape Town-based franchise will then head abroad for a tough four-match tour of Australasia, which will see them take on the Crusaders, the Chiefs, the Brumbies and the Reds on successive weekends in March.
“We are very blessed at Western Province Rugby to boast leaders like Jean and Schalk, not to mention other leaders within the playing group like Deon Fourie, Duane Vermeulen and Gio Aplon,” Coetzee said.
“However, having Jean and Schalk as captain and vice-captain respectively is the best of both worlds for us.”
Coetzee said it would be crucial to properly manage the two players, with Burger only recently making his return to top level rugby, and De Villiers being a key figure for the Springboks in the lead-up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
“Having Jean as captain and Schalk as his deputy will allow us to manage both players and, also, get the best out of them in the process,” Coetzee said. – Sapa