Iconic Springbok Schalk Burger is almost certainly out of next week’s first Test against the British and Irish Lions because of a serious on-going calf injury.
Mike Greenaway writes for The Pretoria News:
In another twist to the starting line-up there appears to have been a change of heart at fullback, where Francois Steyn ran at Thursday’s practice when it had been suggested by the management some time ago that wing JP Pietersen would be reinvented as a fullback, which would in turn have allowed for the selection of Free State flyer Jongi Nokwe.
But at the session it was Pietersen in his customary position, Bryan Habana on the other wing, Jacobs at centre with Jean de Villiers and Ruan Pienaar at 10.
Burger has not played since injuring his calf three weeks before the end of the Stormers’ Super 14 campaign and more than a month later he is still not able to participate in training.
On Thursday night the Springbok management chose to decline comment on the state of Burger’s health, nor would they inform the media (and thus the public) on the possibility of a replacement.
Bulls hard man Danie Rossouw has been running in the place of the 2005 IRB Player of the Year, and is the likely replacement, despite the proven claims of Heinrich Brussouw, the Free State fetcher who was dropped after the friendly against Namibia only to single-handedly play the Cheetahs into the game against the Lions with his pilfering of ball at the breakdowns.
The Lions conceded 19 turnovers in that game, many of them at the breakdown. John Smit was asked about Brussouw’s ability to steal ball.
He said: “As a Shark, I know all about what he can do. We have been reduced to tears many times on a Sunday after visits to Bloemfontein.
“He is only four and a half foot tall and born to steal ball a few inches from the grass!” Smit joked.
Smit’s good friend at the Sharks, Johann Muller, was not smiling on Wednesday night after his team’s systematic drubbing at the hands of the Lions.
“They are a really good side. I must be honest, I was taken aback at how ruthlessly efficient they are,” Muller said. “You can tell they are very well coached, very well drilled.
“They do the basics extremely well – at scrums, line-outs and rucks they were much better than they were against the Cheetahs.”
Muller said that there were two things above all else that impressed him about the play of the Lions.
“Their defence is outstanding. They really are very good. We trained all week to break their rush defence, but in the match it was too much for us. We couldn’t make even one line break,” Muller said.
“The other thing is their physicality at the breakdowns. If you leave any daylight between ball carrier and cleaner, they will steal it.
‘This is a very good Lions team. The reassuring thing is that the Springboks know it. I have had a chat to John Smit and they are under no illusions about how organised and committed these guys are.”Tweet