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Ken Borland

Burger to play no part in Rugby Championship

Posted on August 07, 2012 by Ken

South Africa have been hit by two major injury blows, with talismanic flank Schalk Burger playing no part in the Rugby Championship and in-form backline star JP Pietersen missing the first six weeks of the competition.

Burger, capped 68 times, injured his knee in his first SuperRugby game of the season at the end of February but there has been no progress in his rehabilitation, according to Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.

“The position with Schalk is very frustrating and we are going to get a full assessment shortly from a physician on where it should be taken from here, but you can take it as read that we won’t see Schalk play before the end of this season. Without even looking at the physician’s report, we are writing him off for the year,” Coetzee was quoted as saying by the website.

The livewire Pietersen was one of the Sharks’ standout players during their march to the SuperRugby final and was the Springboks’ chief attacking threat during the June internationals against England.

But the 26-year-old veteran of 45 tests suffered a fracture of the thumb during the weekend’s SuperRugby final against the Chiefs and will undergo surgery on Wednesday.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has recalled Stormers centre Juan de Jongh, a 2011 World Cup player and a controversial omission from the original squad, in Pietersen’s place.

The 24-year-old De Jongh made his Springbok debut against Wales in 2010 and has 10 test caps.

“We decided to pick Juan as he provides midfield cover, an area where we are perhaps a bit thin now that JP is out,” Meyer said in a statement released on Monday.

“JP was going to provide cover for us at outside centre, while JJ Engelbrecht and Francois Hougaard can also be used on the wing, especially as Bjorn Basson [ruptured intestines] is out for another six weeks.

“Losing JP is obviously a massive blow as he’s been playing some superb rugby lately, but Juan has also been in good form for the Stormers and was one of the unlucky players to miss out on initial selection. It’s great to have Juan involved as he brings new energy with him. This call-up just shows again that no player is ever completely out of the equation.”

Powerhouse Sharks flank Willem Alberts has also gone for a scan on bruised ribs after the SuperRugby final, but the return to training of Stormers eighthman Duane Vermeulen with the Western Province Currie Cup team on Monday does somewhat soothe Meyer’s loose forward concerns.

The Springboks are having a training camp in Cape Town, before playing Argentina in their Rugby Championship opener in the same city on August 18.

South Africa then play the Pumas in Argentina, in Mendoza, on August 25 before taking on Australia in Perth on September 8 and New Zealand in Dunedin on September 15.

The Springboks end their campaign at home, with matches against Australia in Pretoria on September 29 and the All Blacks in Soweto on October 6.

South Africa finished last in the abbreviated 2011 Tri-Nations, with just one win in four matches.


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