Schalk Burger says motivating his Vodacom Stormers team-mates for Friday’s Vodacom Super 14 match against the Highlanders in Dunedin is not difficult.
Burger took over the captaincy from the injured Jean de Villiers last Saturday against the Hurricanes and coach Rassie Erasmus again handed him the reins for the last clash of the Stormers’ overseas trip.
The injury-ravaged Stormers are looking for their first win on tour and after suffering four defeats in a row a victory would make the long flight home much more pleasant.
The flank said it was reasonably easy to motive the team. “Everybody has pride and all of us are competitive. We want to conclude the tour with a win and I believe the same goes for the Highlanders.
“They have lost to the Blues last week. Hopefully we can produce a big performance – we owe it to ourselves and to our supporters.”
Burger said it was not pleasant to take over the captaincy under such circumstances. “Yes, it is unfortunate that I have to take over with all the injuries.
“We had some bad luck with injuries and it is never nice to lose your captain. But it is the last week of a five-week tour and hopefully we can stand together and win the last one.”
The Springbok flank expects the Highlanders to be tough at their home ground. “They have a reasonably good season. They have a big pack and good loosies, so it will be a tough game.
“Every match starts and ends at front and hopefully we can win the physical battle.”
He said it was difficult to point to a reason why the Stormers’ season imploded so horribly. “It was a combination of things. I don’t think we played great rugby and we had a bit of bad luck as well. It is difficult to say – if I knew what the reasons were for our poor results we would have won a few by now.”
Burger said the mood in the camp was reasonably good at this point. “Under the circumstances it is very good. It is never easy if you don’t win. If you are on tour you want to win and you want to enjoy the tour. Hopefully we can win the last one and finish on a high.”
Asked about his own form Burger said he was comfortable with the level of his play. “It is never easy to play in a losing team and even though you have played well you still feel bad if you have lost.”
Teams for Carisbrook:
Highlanders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jason Shoemark, 12 Daniel Bowden, 11 Fetu’u Vainikolo, 10 Mathew Berquist, 9 Jimmy Cowan (captain), 8 George Naoupu, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Hayden Triggs, 3 Clint Newland, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16 David Hall, 17 Chris King, 18 Josh Bekhuis, 19 Steven Setephano, 20 Sean Romans, 21 Johnny Leota, 22 Kendrick Lynn.
Vodacom Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Gcobani Bobo, 13 Dylan Des Fountain, 12 Peter Grant, 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Luke Watson, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Schalk Burger (captain), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 AJ Venter, 3 Brock Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Morgan Newman, 22 Liam Bax.
Referee: Matt Goddard (Australia)