Burger eyes Canberra redemption

PUBLISHED: March 20, 2014

DHL Stormers vice-captain Schalk Burger believes that a win over the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday could be a turning point in his team’s Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.

The DHL Stormers suffered two losses in the New Zealand leg of their tough four-match tour of Australasia – first up to the Crusaders (13-14) and then to the double defending champion Chiefs (20-36) this past weekend.

But with two fixtures remaining in Australia – against the Brumbies in Canberra this Saturday (kick-off 10h40 SA time) and the Reds in Brisbane next weekend – Burger believes that redemption could be just around the corner.

“We know how hard it is to win in Canberra and we’re obviously feeling a bit of pressure after two losses (on tour) so far,” Burger told www.iamastormer.com on Wednesday.

“But a lot of hard graft has been done in this build-up week, so we’re seeing this game as an opportunity to turn our season around.”

Interestingly, the last time the DHL Stormers played in Canberra (in 2011), Burger captained them to a 16-3 win over the Brumbies – their first-ever Super Rugby victory in the Australian Capital in six previous attempts.

“We came close against the Crusaders (in the first week of our tour). Against the Chiefs (last week) we hung in for long periods of time, got ourselves into a good position and then, unfortunately, we gave it away again with a silly mistake.

“We have to eradicate those mistakes from our game, as against the Chiefs we just made way too many of them. If we cut down our error-rate, we will have more continuity in our game,” added Burger.

“When we arrived in Christchurch (for the first match) we encountered the worst weather they had experienced in 100 years, but in Coogee where we are staying now the sun is shining and it reminds us a lot of Camps Bay. So hopefully a bit of sun will motivate us to turn in a great performance in Canberra on Saturday.”

The all-action flanker has been one of his team’s star performers on tour, particularly in their heartbreaking one-point defeat to the Crusaders in their tour-opener, but the always-modest Super Rugby and Springbok veteran said: “I think that I’m definitely getting closer to my best form… but the more I play the better I’ll get.

“At the moment I’m happy where I’m at, but it would certainly mean a lot more to me if a big performance (from me) can help us earn a victory.”

Aside from Burger’s exceptional form over the past fortnight, fellow loose forwards Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr also both showed their worth as second-half replacements against the Chiefs – something that could give them an edge come this weekend.

“We do have a lot of loose forwards to utilise and when they come off the bench it does bring massive energy to the team, as does (prop) Oli Kebble when he comes on. At the moment the guys are coming on and making a huge difference for us,” said Burger.

“Unfortunately we’re a bit thin in the second row at the moment, but we do have Duane Vermeulen covering for us at lock. The bench is there to bring change, and last week the players managed to do that.

“However, chasing the game, as we were forced into doing in Hamilton, is not an easy thing to do, so hopefully when those players come on this week we will be in a good position where we don’t have to chase.”