No Burger, no De Jongh… but Fourie, Bekker, Kolisi, Elstadt and De Villiers will all be in action for the DHL Stormers this coming weekend. That was the injury report given by coach Allister Coetzee on Monday.
Speaking ahead of his team’s second warm-up match of 2013, against the Regent Boland Cavaliers at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 14h45), Coetzee reported back on the well-being of his players.
Captain Schalk Burger will miss the Boland game, after the calf strain which he sustained early last week stiffened up over the past few days, whilst star centre Juan de Jongh will join his skipper on the sidelines for the next two weeks.
“It’s just a calf strain and we are looking at a minimum two-week time-frame before his return,” said Coetzee about Burger.
“His knee is functioning at 100 percent, the calf-muscle injury is not related to last year’s injury at all. He was going to play against the Cheetahs. Initially it was just tight (at the start of last week) and he just strained it a bit at training… but there is no tear.
“Schalla has been working hard and after a long lay-off, the work-load got to the calf – that happens,” added the DHL Stormers boss.
Speaking about De Jongh, who looked full of running against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein this past weekend, Coetzee revealed: “Juan has done a hamstring, which is worse than a grade one injury. He will out for a minimum of two weeks.
“If the healing goes well, it will be two weeks, but it could be three weeks. It’s touch-and-go for Juan for the opening round against the Bulls. You have to be careful with injuries like this and make sure it heals completely. After all, it’s early days in the season and you have to be conservative with your players.”
Whilst Burger and De Jongh will not feature against Boland, joining new signing Michael Rhodes (hamstring strain) on the sidelines, hooker Deon Fourie, lock Andries Bekker, loose forwards Siya Kolisi and Rynhardt Elstadt and centre Jean de Villiers are all set to play on Saturday.
De Villiers could form a new-look centre combination with youngster Damian de Allende – who stood up so well against the Cheetahs – whilst Coetzee will also welcome back Absa Currie Cup-winning scrumhalf Nic Groom to add to the Stormers’ rich scrumhalf talent, with Louis Schreuder and Dewaldt Duvenage having featured last weekend.
Fullbacks Gio Aplon and Jaco Taute – both of whom have stomach bugs – should also be available for the Boland clash, with the Stormers coach also saying that he had given flyhalf Elton Jantjies another week off after the death of his father.
“We are going to train very hard the week before the Bulls game. We will be doing simulated stuff and do contact sessions,” said Coetzee when asked about how he planned on welcoming back the likes of Burger, Jantjies, De Jongh and Peter Grant (who is still in Japan) over the coming weeks.
“I am looking at also perhaps playing a few chukkas of full contact on the Wednesday (February 13) to give players like Elton an opportunity, or some of the other returning players an opportunity to get a bit of match fitness back.
“That is why there are no friendlies for that weekend. That Wednesday we’ll have a sort of match practice, it could be against our Vodacom Cup side.”
When asked one more time about last weekend’s 26-27 loss to the Cheetahs, with an eye on their second warm-up game of 2013, Coetzee admitted: “It was not where it should be and I’m looking to see a higher work-rate (from my players). This week we need to pick it up quite a bit before we even think about the Bulls match (on February 22).
“I sensed that there was a rustiness (against the Cheetahs) and that led to a high penalty count, which also explains our poor discipline. All these factors are coupled together.
“This Saturday’s match against Boland may not be as intense as Super Rugby, but Boland will give us a good run. Again, it’s not about winning this week, but rather about making the most of the match situations and testing our plays.
“Boland will be fired up as they always are when they play the DHL Stormers and that’s what we will be looking for on Saturday – a keen, competitive encounter.”
* The Regent Boland Cavaliers will host the DHL Stormers in a pre-season friendly at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, February 9 at 14h45. A curtain-raiser will take place between a Boland Invitational XV and a DHL WP Vodacom Cup XV at 12h30.
Tickets are priced at R50 and R75 and are available at Computicket, Shoprite and Shoprite Checkers. No tickets will be sold at the stadium on the day.
** The Stormers will start their 2013 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign against the Bulls (in Pretoria) on Friday, February 22.