Stormers

Schalk Burger to captain Stormers as eighthman

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Former IRB Player of the Year Schalk Burger will captain the Stormers in their 2010 Super 14 campaign.


And Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus also added on Tuesday that the openside flanker will be making a positional switch to eighthman.


Last year’s Stormers captain Jean de Villiers has been lured abroad by the pound, and Western Province Currie Cup captain Luke Watson has followed suit, which opened the way for Burger to take over the reins of the Newlands-based side, who finished in a disappionting 10th position last season.


Burger will be leading a side that will include another former IRB Player of the Year Bryan Habana who will ply his trade down south next season.


Burger and Habana may very well be joined by Springbok centre Jaque Fourie who has just been declared a free agent. Erasmus said on Tuesday that a deal with Fourie will be finalised soon.


Although he has proved his worth as world-class flanker, Erasmus feels that it will be in the Stormers’ interest that Burger packs down at No 8.

 

Watson would have been the obvious choice as the No 8 but he’s moved on to England.

“The openside debate is ongoing. You have a guy like Heinrich Brussow (of the Cheetahs) who is a classic openside, but some teams prefer to have the whole team contest at the breakdown,” said Erasmus, who has often made the point that there is no need for a specialist opensider.


“The way we coach at Western Province and the Stormers is not to have a specialist openside, but for the whole team to contest at the breakdown.

 

“We practice from 15 to one to see that everyone can contest on the ground.

“It will also depend on different combinations for different games. Our defensive system is the same at the scrum, but on attack you need a guy who can handle the ball in the (scrum) channel and there we’ll look at Schalk and Duane Vermueluen.’


“So, if we play opposition that is strong in the line-out, it would be wonderful to have Duane (Vermeulen), Flouw (Francois Louw) and Schalk (Burger), who can all contest in the line-outs.


“If we play against a Brussow-like player, then a guy like Pieter Myburgh, or Conraad Britz, or somebody like that will come into the mix.


“It will differ from game to game, but overall, our opinion is the man that plays number eight must be able to handle the ball at the back of the scrum, because with our defence system it is pretty similar if you play numbers six, seven or eight.


Erasmus explained that there was a good case for Burger to lead the side.


“He relates well to our management structures and is a Province boy through and through,” said Erasmus.


“It’s not finalised, but it’ll be a big surprise if he’s not appointed.”


The Stormers will be able to call several players who sat out the major part of the year because of injury.


Their number include lock Adriaan Fondse, wing Nick Koster, fullback Conrad Jantjes, flyhalf Willem de Waal and centres Dylan des Fountain and Morgan Newman.


“Having Habana come down is really the cherry on the top when you consider the other guys back from injury,” said Erasmus.


“His experience will really help the youngsters. “With Jaque Fourie coming it will be an exciting backline, and a youngster like Juan de Jongh should thrive. It shouldn’t be hard to coach.”


Fourie could well be making his Stormers debut against his former team as the Cape side start their 2010 campaign against the Lions in Johannesburg.

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