Cape Town – He’s had two false starts in the last two years, but it seems as if Schalk Burger is finally back for good for the Stormers.
The Springbok loose forward played the whole game in Saturday’s 26-19 victory over the Bulls in Polokwane, with the Stormers scoring four tries to three in the process. And coach Allister Coetzee told the Cape Times on Sunday that one of the many positives was Burger’s performance.
“Schalk played the full 80 minutes and he really put in a strong performance. Very high work-rate, very effective in ball-carrying, great hands and decision-making – he was very good,” Coetzee said.
“The loose forwards played very well, even when Nizaam (Carr) and Deon (Fourie) came on. They were outstanding, and the competition at loose forward is really looking healthy.”
The coach expressed his satisfaction with how the forwards managed to dominate the scrums and win their lineouts against a strong Bulls pack, who had veteran Bok star Victor Matfield making his comeback after two years out of the game.
“Victor played about 21 minutes. I must still check the video, but he obviously took lineout ball. He took one of our balls late in the game, but our main jumper Ruan Botha was off already. It’s difficult to judge in 20 minutes,” Coetzee said.
But what impressed him most was the ability of the backs to strike. “Our biggest positive was our set-piece play, we scrummed really well. Our lineout work was good, and with our backs and starter moves ... We really had a lot of impetus, getting us over the advantage line – running good lines and getting line-breaks was really great.”
Damian de Allende and Kobus van Wyk did well at wing against Bjorn Basson and Akona Ndungane, but while Coetzee was pleased with their displays, he confirmed he was still searching for a new signing.
The wing worries will be eased with the return of fullback Jaco Taute against the Kings in Port Elizabeth on Friday. Taute’s presence will allow Gio Aplon to move to right wing. “Guys coming back are Brok Harris, Pat Cilliers, Manuel Carizza and Jaco,” Coetzee said.
“Ruan got a bump to the head, and he did a concussion test and stayed off. We will continue the process tomorrow. Louis Schreuder got a bump to a knee, and the same for Juan de Jongh, but they should be fine.”
There is also a strong chance of flyhalf Peter Grant coming back from Japan for the opening game against the Lions on February 22 after his club Kobe lost their playoff match yesterday.