The calf strain has put him back
The date for Stormers captain Schalk Burger to resume his playing career has been pushed back once more.
This emerged after it was revealed by coach Allister Coetzee on Monday that Burger's calf tweak has developed into a "strain".
Burger has not played since he underwent surgery for a knee injury he suffered in the opening round of the 2012 Super Rugby season.
He was named captain for the 2013 season and worked hard in the pre-season, but his appearances on the training field have been curtailed since the calf problem arose in training just over a week ago.
It has since "stiffened up" and he is now in doubt for the start of the season, although Coetzee remains confident that the lay-off would not be much longer than a two-week lay-off for the veteran Springbok.
"That [the calf strain] has also put him back," Coetzee told a media briefing at the Stormers' training field.
"He is so keen .and trained so hard, it is just unfortunate."
The Stormers mentor said Burger's knee is functioning 100 percent and the latest setback is not related to last year's surgery.
"It is just a calf strain and we are looking at a minimum two-week time frame [before his return]. He was coming back [after tweaking the calf last Monday] and he was going to play this [past] weekend [against the Cheetahs].
"Initially it was just tight and with the training he strained it a bit, but there is no tear. Schalla [Burger] has been working hard and after a long lay-off, the workload got to the calf and that happens."
Burger is not the only Springbok in a race against time to be fit for the season opener against the Bulls in Pretoria in just over a fortnight.
"Juan [de Jongh] has done a hamstring, which is worse than a grade one," Coetzee said, adding: "[He is out for] a minimum of two weeks.
"If the healing goes well, it is [he is out for] two weeks, but it could be three weeks. It is touch-and-go for the opening round [against the Bulls]. With a thing like that you have to be careful and make sure it heals completely - you don't want it to recur. It is early days [in the season] and you have to be conservative."
Michael Rhodes, imported from the Lions in the off-season, has also suffered a "slight" hamstring strain.
"He was training last week, after the hamstring strain and then he tweaked it in the warm-up [before the Cheetahs game]," Coetzee said.
"It was very unfortunate that it happened. We will have to take our time with Michael and make sure it heals completely, but he is out for this week."
Lions loan player Jaco Taute and Bok utility back Gio Aplon both missed training on Monday with a flu bug, but should be fit for the weekend.
However, young Currie Cup star JP du Plessis injured his lower back and sidelined for a couple of months. Coetzee said he could be back after April.
In other Stormers injury news Coetzee revealed that Siya Kolisi, Rynhard Elstadt, Duane Vermeulen, Nizaam Carr, Don Armand, Deon Fourie and Andries Bekker will all be playing in the final pre-season outing against the Boland Cavaliers at the Cape Town stadium on Saturday.
"It is good to see those guys get their run-on," Coetzee said.
Lions loan player Elton Jantjies, who is on compassionate leave after the untimely death of his father recently, he will be back with the Stormers on February 10.
However, Japan-based Peter Grant's team won this past weekend and it is uncertain if he will be back in time for the start of the season.
Asked if any of the absent players would be considered for the Bulls game, given his earlier statement that only those who featured in pre-season matches will play in the opening round, Coetzee said he has an alternative plan.
"Everybody will be considered," the coach said, adding: "The week before the Bulls we are going to train very hard. We will be doing simulated stuff and do contact sessions.
"I am looking to play a few chukkas of full contact on the Wednesday to give players like Elton an opportunity, or some of the other returning players an opportunity to get a bit of match fitness back.
"That is why there are no friendlies for that weekend. That Wednesday we'll have a sort of match practice, it could be against our Vodacom Cup side."