WP hopeful of Burger boost
Western Province coach Allister Coetzee is “confident” Springbok flank Schalk Burger will be fit to play a part in the business end of the Currie Cup.
Coetzee was initially hoping to welcome Burger back from a lengthy injury layoff ahead of the weekend’s north/south derby against the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
The Springbok stalwart, however, underwent minor tendon surgery recently, which has delayed his return, but he is set to resume training on Wednesday.
“There’s a big possibility he could be back in the Currie Cup. I don’t want to put a time frame on it, but I am confident,” Coetzee said on Monday.
“He underwent a small operation and will return to training on Wednesday. We want to make sure there’s nothing that prevents him from running flat out.”
Coetzee confirmed that captain Deon Fourie is in doubt for the Pretoria clash after suffering a rib injury in the 25-19 win over the Sharks at Newlands at the weekend.
“There are no major concerns except for Deon. He took a knock to the rib so we’ll see how that progresses throughout the week.
“We’ll give Deon until captain’s [practice on Friday]. Should he not make it, De Kock Steenkamp will take over [the captaincy].”
Coetzee added that Fourie wouldn’t necessarily be replaced by a fetcher should he be ruled out.
“Rohan Kitshoff is a possibility. He’s a similar type of player than Deon but I have a few other options as well. Rynhardt [Elstadt] has played there before at Super Rugby level, so he’s no stranger to that position.
“If Michael Rhodes shifts to flank, we can include Gerbrandt Grobler at lock and if we have Kitshoff on the bench, we still have the option of that sort of player should it be necessary, with Michael able to shift back to the second row.”
Coetzee said although he’s still weighing up his options, he has ruled out the possibility of shifting Nizaam Carr from the back to the side of the scrum.
“Nizaam is playing very well at No.8 and I’d like to make sure we don’t reshuffle too much, so for this weekend I’ll keep Nizaam at No.8.”
Meanwhile, Springbok hooker Tiaan Liebenberg and prop Frans Malherbe remain on the injured list. There are concerns that Liebenberg’s back injury is more serious than first anticipated while Malherbe is expected to return to training in about three weeks.
“Tiaan is seeing a specialist and I’ll probably hear from him this week. It’s not just spasm…they suspect it could be one of his disks but we’ll know more when we get the report later in the week,” said Coetzee.
Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis will step up his training this week and could be included on the bench as Kurt Coleman looks likely to retain the No.10 jersey.
“Demetri was still not comfortable with his shoulder last week. He’ll start with contact tomorrow and we’ll see how he comes through it but Kurt has been very consistent. He’s grown with every game he’s started.”