Schalk may be ready for tour
The Stormers’ overseas tour appears to be what coach Allister Coetzee is working towards as a target for captain Schalk Burger’s return to the playing field.
Burger remains sidelined after tearing calf ligaments in the pre-season, with the injury putting on hold his intended comeback after a year away from the playing field following a serious knee injury. There appears to be a lot of pessimism about Burger’s chances of making a full comeback, but that negativity is not shared by Coetzee, who appointed Burger as squad captain at the start of the year.
“We just need Schalk to get back to the conditioning level that is necessary for Super Rugby, and at the moment he is a bit of a way from that,” said Coetzee.
“Schalk will be reassessed in three weeks, and we will take it from there. If he is ready to play again then, it will be just before our overseas tour, so he can definitely tour with us if everything goes well. But I don’t want to see Schalk on the field until he can do everything 100% and is able to run flat out.”
The Stormers’ first tour game is on 26 April against the Hurricanes in Wellington, and their last home game before the bye that precedes the tour is the big derby match against the Sharks on 13 April. Burger definitely won’t be ready to face the Sharks, but there is an outside chance that Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth will be.
“We are on a three week plan with Eben starting from now so it is possible he could play some role in the Sharks game,” said Coetzee.
Also hoping to be back in the mix in three weeks is hooker Scarra Ntubeni. One of the heroes of the Western Province victory in the Currie Cup final against the Sharks last Octobert, Ntubeni started training again on Monday after undergoing a shoulder operation during the off-season.