Schalk back to his best

Wed, 19 Mar 2014 12:19
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Schalk Burger feels he is once again starting to reach his top form as the Stormers prepare to face the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.
 
Schalk Burger feels he is once again starting to reach his top form as the Stormers prepare to face the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.
 
Burger, who suffered a two season lay off due to injuries and sickness, has had a slow return to competitive rugby, he came off the bench for Western Province in the latter stages of the Currie Cup but now finds himself an integral part of the Stormers set up.
 
The former IRB Player of the Year feels his form is starting to return and he is not far off his best, this comes at a good time for the Stormers who have had a poor start to the Super Rugby tournament and will be looking for their first away win against the Brumbies.
 
"I think that i am definitely getting close to it, [my best form] the more I play the better I'll get.
 
"At the moment I am happy where I am at, it will be a lot nicer if we can put in a big performance and get a victory," he said.
 
Burger had a brilliant game against the Crusaders and looked to be back to his industrious self but he has concluded it was a game that suited him and the Stormers as the opposition were keen to 'engage' with them.
 
"The Crusaders was a game that suited all of us, they really engaged with us, therefore our stats was through the roof.
 
"I think the Chiefs were quite clever where they boxed smartly and tried to play around us a bit more than through us," he said.
 
Burger has praised the energy and fire that players from the bench have brought to the games so far and hopes that this weekend their role will be to see the game out rather than chasing it.
 
"Nizaam [Carr] and Siya [Kolisi] coming off the bench does give masses of energy to all the players, Oli Kebble also gives a massive amount of energy when he does come off the bench.
 
"That's what the bench is for, they have got to make an impact and I think at the moment they are coming on and definitly making a difference.
 
"What the bench is there to do is to bring added energy and change, on the weekend they had to come out and chase the game and its not the easiest thing to do, so hopefully his weekend when they do come on we can be in a favourable position and they can close the game out," he said.
 
Burger and Coetzee have both done their homework on the opponents for the weekend and will hoping that the Stormers gameplan is effective enough to get the victory.
 
"This weekend we want continuity, the Brumbies are a side that play with an element that is similar to the Bulls where they  play a lot of field possession and then when you do carry the ball they do their best to disrupt you, especially from set phase.
 
"Especially from that rush defense that comes pretty hard for the first three phases, I think from my point of view we want to keep continuity and we want to play with the rugby ball.
 
"It is an uncomfortable thing to play against[the rush defense], we don't play against it that often, so you do get the feel that you do actually have less time than you have got and if they do make a dominant hit the breakdown is going to be quite a battle.
 
"They do come hard at the break downs they have conceded a hell of a lot of penalties, so for us the ideal start to the game would be putting them under pressure in their half and then once we are there keep the ball in hand as much as possible," he said.
 
Coach Allister Coetzee had a similar view of what the Brumbies would bring and how his team should go about combating it.
 
"They have a massive line speed in their defense, they push hard, you cant afford to go lateral with them, they will smother you and choke you and force mistakes.
 
"We have got to make sure that we are very hard and clinical in terms of our first ruck and ball continuity.
 
"It's not just pressure but score board pressure too, we have got to start well and keep building on that," Coetzee said.
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 10 0 5 43
Waratahs 15 8 0 7 40
Rebels 15 7 0 8 31
Reds 15 3 1 11 17
Force 15 2 0 13 13
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 15 11 0 4 53
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 52
Chiefs 15 11 0 4 51
Crusaders 15 11 0 4 50
Blues 15 8 1 6 39
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 1 4 51
Bulls 15 9 1 5 42
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Sunwolves 15 1 1 13 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 14 11 0 3 52
Sharks 15 9 1 5 43
Jaguares 14 3 0 11 18
Kings 15 2 0 13 9