Stormers boosted by Schalk’s return

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iol spt apr22 Schalkie Gallo Images Schalk Burger returns from injury to the Stormers side for their Super Rugby clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

Schalk Burger is fit again, but the Stormers have suffered further injury blows ahead of Saturday’s clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Springbok prop Pat Cilliers, who made his return from a rib problem in Saturday’s 18-3 win over the Lions, hurt his knee late in the game and has sustained a tear in the meniscus.

He saw a specialist yesterday, and is awaiting the opinion on whether he will require an operation. If Cilliers escapes the surgeon’s knife, he would be out for at least six weeks, according to coach Allister Coetzee, but it would be much longer if an operation is required.

Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis was already ruled out of the Cheetahs game at the weekend with a broken nose that will keep him out for two weeks, which will see Peter Grant at No 10 and Jaco Taute at fullback.

But there could be a change at wing, where Sailosi Tagicakibau is nursing a knock to the sternum. He spent yesterday’s practice in Bellville with an ice pack on the injured area, and will be given until later in the week to prove his fitness.

There was some good news in the injury front, though, as apart from Burger and also prop Oli Kebble being back, there is a good chance of Scarra Ntubeni, Kobus van Wyk and Cheslin Kolbe being ready to play.

Kolbe trained with the team and then reapplied ice to his knee afterwards, with Coetzee stating that he would play off the bench if passed fit.

Ntubeni and Van Wyk did a number of training drills under the watch of team physiotherapist Wayne Hector and conditioning coach Steph du Toit.

“They have responded well, but Wednesday will be the cut-off date. I’m really positive about them, but the proof of the pudding will be in the testing,” said Coetzee, who will name his team this afternoon after practice at the Northerns Avonwood Rugby Club in Elsies River.

“Jean de Villiers and Duane Vermeulen didn’t train today as we are managing their load.”

Burger, who celebrated his 31st birthday earlier this month, has been out since the Brumbies game on March 22, but won’t start against the Cheetahs.

“Schalk has been out for some time now, three or four weeks, so one has to get him back into the mix by probably playing him off the bench and giving him some gametime. I think that would be the wise thing to do. You don’t want to chuck him straight into a high-intensity game and then something else goes,” Coetzee said.

“We were cautious with his rehab and he’s worked hard and understands the pain of sitting out and not playing. He knows his body the best.”

The Stormers adopted a more attacking plan against the Lions, where they tried to hold on to the ball much more than in previous games. While they failed to score any points in the second half, Coetzee said the Cape side didn’t want to focus on the mistakes made.

“What I’m looking at is completing opportunities. We have created quite a number of them – the one that was slapped down with Nizaam Carr, we got a penalty for that ... I don’t know if the sanction was (sufficient). Later on, we were in position in their 22, and then we had Kitsie (Steven Kitshoff) cleaning out from the side. Those two instances could’ve given us our four tries,” he said.

“But the chat has been positive about it. You cannot just dwell on the negative stuff. Everybody makes mistakes. If you have 20 and you convert five, then you should score five tries, and not look at the 15 wasted.”

Meanwhile, Coetzee said the Stormers were considering bringing in a specialist kicking coach to assist Peter Grant with his goal-kicking problems. Greg Hechter currently doubles up as a kicking coach in conjunction with his fitness and conditioning duties. - Cape Times


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