The loss of captain Schalk Burger for Friday night’s Vodacom Super 14 match against the Brumbies at Newlands is a big loss to the Vodacom Stormers side, but his absence affords Pieter Louw an opportunity to show his worth.
That is how coach Allister Coetzee views the situation with his loose-forwards. Fiery flanker Burger was not considered for the Stormers third match of the series due to a hamstring injury he picked up against the Waratahs at Newlands the past Saturday.
Louw, however, was outstanding when he replaced the Springbok early in the match and Coetzee has all the confidence in the world in his abilities to contribute to the team effort on Friday.
“Obviously Schalla is a big blow for the team, as your captain and as a world class player, but when Schalla moves out there’s an opportunity for Pieter Louw whose got more than 50 caps for WP.
“We’ve got no doubt this year in our back-up players. All is well with our depth and I’m very pleased with where we are. Dries took over the captaincy last week when we were under pressure and the whole side is quite a settled side and it just showed that the leadership has grown a bit and that’s a good position to be in.”
Coetzee said Burger’s injury was a grade one tear and that normally requires a 10 to 14 day recovery time. “We want to make sure he has the best possible time to recover fully.
“We don’t want have this become a chronic thing. We want to be fair on Schalla because there’s a long season ahead and when he comes back we want to make sure he continues to play as many games as possible.
“We’re pleased with the way Wicus Blaauw has recovered now. JC Kritzinger has done very well against the Wartahs. It’s exciting to know Wicus is coming back but it might not be an automatic selection the way JC is doing and there’s another opportunity this weekend for JC to prove to the selection panel that they must think carefully about Wicus’ selection next week.”
Ricky Januarie also celebrated his return to the starting XV with a accomplished performance last weekend and deservedly retains his place ahead of Dewaldt Duvenhage, who was the first-choice scrumhalf last season.
“It’s just a matter of the challenges we’re faced with in the week and the best way to exploit them and that’s what I base my selection on,” explained Coetzee. “Ricky played well last week and you guys would have written me off if I hadn’t selected him this week.
“In all fairness he played well and he deserves another chance. At some stage in this competition coaches will have to look to rotate certain players, but I’m in a position where Ricky gets a second opportunity in the Stormers lineup and I’m pleased with his game.”
Coetzee said Conrad Hoffman, another contender for the scrumhalf berth, is playing Varsity Cup rugby and is working his way back to full fitness. “That’s the whole idea, he’s playing varsity cup because he’s been injured for some time.
“His next step is to move up to the Vodacom Cup, and when we require his services he’ll be match fit to go into the squad again.”