Bad news for Vodacom Western Province supporters is that Springbok flank Schalk Burger will be missing at least two Currie Cup matches due to a rib injury.
The fiery loosie will thus miss Friday night’s match against the Leopards in Potchefstroom. Springbok scrumhalf Ricky Januarie, who on Tuesday returned home with the triumphant Springboks from the Tri-Nations campaign in Australia and New Zealand, is also given a bit of a breather.
The two stars joined their provincial team-mates on Tuesday in Bellville at the High Performance Centre. in Bellville. Team doctor Dr Ryan Kohler assessed Burger, who left the field after 67 minutes of the past Saturday’s Test against New Zealand in Hamilton clutching his ribs.
The doctor reported that Burger’s ribcage was still swollen and a more accurate assessment will be completed in the next fortnight. The possibility exists that Burger may be out for longer than the initial two weeks. Coach Allister Coetzee explained that Januarie will not feature this weekend due to the short turn-around.
The only change to the side that lost to the Cheetahs sees De Kock Steenkamp replacing departed lock Chris Jack. Hilton Lobberts comes onto the bench, as does Tiaan Liebenberg, who recently recovered from a knee injury. Utility back Conrad Hoffmann, who was expected to start at flyhalf, is also left amongst the substitutes.
“We wanted to keep that continuity going,” Coetzee said at the media conference on Tuesday. “It’s not like the Bulls or Sharks where they are getting 10 players back, so we have to keep going with what we have. “The next three matches are going to be so crucial to nailing down a home semi-final. That said, we are going to Potch to win. The bonus point is exactly that a bonus.”
The coach was adamant when he said he doesn’t believe mass changes at this stage of the series would benefit the team. “Making a lot of changes at this stage can be disruptive. We are definitely looking to consolidate. “If we can continue to build, then I don’t think it matters who we play in the semi-finals or how many Boks they have. There’s still a hunger in this side to succeed.”
The coach sent out the message he wouldn’t take anything for granted, even though WP are in a favourable position – adding that reserves like Hoffmann still have a part to play, but for the time being the current side needs to play as much as possible.
“It took a while for the backline to click, and unfortunately we lost Morgan Newman recently. But Juan de Jongh is playing well next to Frikkie Welsh and we are attacking with plenty of confidence. “If we can lay the platform up front it will allow the backline to attack. If that dynamic is functioning then we will have a crack.”
Vodacom WP: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Frikkie Welsh, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Luke Watson (captain), 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Wicus Blaauw. Substitutes: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 JD Moller, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Paul Bosch, 22 JJ Engelbrecht