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DHL Stormers

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

He didn’t get what he wanted from the last game of the Vodacom Super Rugby season, which was for his DHL Stormers team to buck the trend of failure in marquee matches, but typically that did not place a massive dent in Schalk Burger’s good humour afterwards.

“I’m not going to see you guys for a while. It would be nice to have you staying over with us in Japan sometime. Get an excuse to come and write about the South Africans playing in Japan and we will be happy to host you,” was the Stormers captain’s grinning parting statement as he left the Newlands boardroom following the post-match press conference after the defeat to the Sharks.

The amiable Burger that we saw after the game was a stark contrast to the angry and frustrated player we saw on the field during the game. The match was brutal at times, and Burger was at the heart of the tempestuous physical exchanges. It was also evident that he allowed the referee Jaco Peyper to get under his skin for what the Stormers may have seen as his inability to stop dubious Sharks tactics at the breakdown.

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger still has unfinished business with the Stormers and Boks

He didn’t get what he wanted from the last game of the Vodacom Super Rugby season, which was for his DHL Stormers team to buck the trend of failure in marquee matches, but typically that did not place a massive dent in Schalk Burger’s good humour afterwards.

“I’m not going to see you guys for a while. It would be nice to have you staying over with us in Japan sometime. Get an excuse to come and write about the South Africans playing in Japan and we will be happy to host you,” was the Stormers captain’s grinning parting statement as he left the Newlands boardroom following the post-match press conference after the defeat to the Sharks.

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Allister Coetzee

Has Allister Coetzee reached the end of the road with the Stormers?

The Stormers’ Super Rugby regression will continue unabated in the years ahead if not for decisive intervention.

Four short years ago they were losing finalists. Just two years ago they topped the log and lost in the semi-final to the Sharks. In 2014 they finished 11th, having lost nine out of 16 matches and, more tellingly, lost any aura of being a formidable opponent.

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imagePicture the scene, Bismarck Du Plessis climbing a sheer cliff, and on reaching the summit watches a helicopter hover overhead. A man leans out and fires a rocket to his right. Inside in a pair of sunglasses, and upon putting them on, a message displays. ” Good morning Mr. Du Plessis, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go to Newlands and beat the Stormers by 35 points and score a minimum of four tries”

Yes I know it’s cheesy, but that’s pretty much the gist of the challenge facing the Sharks this evening. After leading the Combined Log for the majority of the Super Rugby season, they have let their lead slip by having a couple of below average results, first losing at home to the Stormers, and then going down to the Cheetahs last weekend.

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imageSaturday afternoon will see the final league phase of Super Rugby 2014 come to an end when the Cell C Sharks travel to Newlands in Cape Town to face the DHL Stormers.

At the time of writing the Sharks have not yet released their team, with Jake White still waiting to hear on the fitness of Patrick Lambie and Paul Jordaan. Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira has earlier in the week tweeted that a scan had ruled out the need for an operation, but that he will still be away from the field for another 2-3 weeks due to a neck injury.

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Stormers Press ReleaseTiaan Liebenberg will start at hooker for the Stormers at Newlands this Saturday in the absence of injured incumbent Deon Fourie.

Fourie sustained a hamstring injury in last week’s win against the Bulls. He has been ruled out of the Stormers’ last league match against the Sharks, which is also the Cape side’s last of the season.

Coach Allister Coetzee has made no further changes to the starting XV. A victory against the Sharks this Saturday would allow the Stormers to finish the season with eight wins, and two against the South African conference champions.

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Special EditionSuper RugbyThe Cell C Sharks will be the only South African team contesting the Vodacom Super Rugby playoffs this year after the Vodacom Bulls slipped up in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon, shortly before the KwaZulu-Natalians’ title hopes were dealt a blow in Bloemfontein.

The team from Durban dropped one position to third on the overall standings after their shock defeat by 27-20 to the Toyota Cheetahs at the Free State Stadium. It was arguably the team from Bloemfontein’s best performance of the season as they moved up from the last spot on the log to 14th.

Earlier on Saturday afternoon, the DHL Stormers recorded the fourth-ever clean sheet in a local derby when they beat the Vodacom Bulls by 16-0 at DHL Newlands. Just before the June-break, the Capetonians did the same when they beat the Toyota Cheetahs by 33-0 in Cape Town.

It will be only the third time in the last 10 years that the Vodacom Bulls will not feature in the playoffs.

The other two times a South African side failed to score any points in local derbies, were in 1999 when the Cell C Sharks beat the Vodacom Bulls by 29-0, while the team from Pretoria beat the Southern Kings by 34-0 last year.

In total, it was the sixth time ever a South African team were kept point-less in Vodacom Super Rugby and the Vodacom Bulls’ third zero. The Pretorians lost 27-0 to the Crusaders in Timaru in 2011 and the DHL Stormers lost 22-0 to the Crusaders in Cape Town in 2008.

On Friday evening, the Lions recorded their sixth win of the season when they beat the Rebels by 34-17 at Ellis Park, meaning 2014 will go down as the most successful for the team based in Johannesburg since the Cats franchise was dissolved before the 2006-season. Their previous best was five wins in 2007.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has conceded that there is an outside chance that his team may be without kingpin No 8 Duane Vermeulen in Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby derby against the Vodacom Bulls at Newlands.

Vermeulen normally sits out Monday training session as part of Coetzee’s way of managing the hard working Springbok, who has played every game he has been available for at both Super Rugby and international level this year. However when he was also absent from training when the team ran at Newlands on Wednesday, it did prompt speculation that perhaps it wasn’t quite business as usual with Vermeulen this time around.

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Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Handre Pollard is not your typical Bulls flyhalf and when he is in control, the Bulls become a different creature all together.

Pollard has enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom culminating in a starting No 10 spot for the Springboks against Scotland on the weekend.

Now, as he returns to Pretoria to get ready for his first senior match in his home province at Newlands, against the Stormers, Pollard is already causing a lot of head-scratching in the Cape.

The Bulls have always been a powerful yet predictable side, especially when it comes to the flyhalf’s role.

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

DHL StormersSchalk Burger returns to the DHL Stormers line up as captain for this weekend’s match against the Bulls in Cape Town.

Burger who was in fine form for the Springboks in the June test series returns after missing the Stormers last game through injury. Springbok Sevens star Seabelo Senatla comes into the match day 22 for what looks to be his Super Rugby debut for the Cape based franchise. Senatla gets the nod due to Kobus Van Wyk not being available through injury.

Injuries have necessitated some positional shifts with Sailosi Tagicakibau lining up in the 13 jersey and Juan De Jongh will play at 12 in the absence of injured Bok newcomer Damian De Allende.

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Cell C SharksBullsStormersLionsCheetahsThe South African Conference resumes this weekend in Round 18, after watching the Australian and New Zealand franchises in action which ensured that there is likely to be only one team from the Republic in the finals.

The Sharks, long guaranteed the South African Conference, will finish in the top three while two more victories will ensure that Jake White’s team finish in the top two position and lock up a home Semi Final.

The Bulls still have an outside chance of reaching the Finals Series, but their hopes were dealt a blow with a 32-21 loss to the Lions before the June break.

The Stormers have become one of the premier spoilers in Super Rugby so far, while the Lions and Cheetahs have likely already begun planning for the Currie Cup and 2015 season.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

DHL StormersDHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee adopted a different approach to his former Springbok management colleague Jake White during the break from Vodacom Super Rugby for the June internationals.

While White had his Cell C Sharks players play club rugby in the last weeks of the break so they don’t hit the remaining phase of the season cold, Coetzee’s players haven’t played in any matches since the win over the Sharks in Durban on the last day of May. The only players to see action in June were the Springboks.

However, the Stormers shouldn’t expect to take any cobwebs into Saturday’s big derby match against the Vodacom Bulls at Newlands as in the two weeks back in training after the taking the first two weeks off, the Stormers have been steadily upping the intensity in training.

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Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth will not feature in this year’s Super Rugby tournament after suffering another injury.

The Springbok lock has been sidelined with an ankle injury since late last year, but was looking forward to returning to action during the latter rounds of Super Rugby.

However, an official injury report released by the Stormers on Monday revealed another injury to Etzebeth.

He has a broken toe, which will keep him out of action for another 2-3 weeks.

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Tazz Fuzani

Tazz Fuzani

The Eastern Province Kings are reportedly interested in luring Western Province lock Tazz Fuzani to Port Elizabeth.

Fuzani, 23, made a promising debut for WP in last year’s Currie Cup, but appears to have fallen out of favour with WP / Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.

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Patrick Cilliers

Patrick Cilliers

Brok Harris

Brok Harris

Western Province and the Stormers look likely to lose the services of props Pat Cilliers and Brok Harris.

According to reports, Cilliers is heading to French club Montpellier, while Welsh club Newport are believed to be hunting the signature of Harris.

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

Western Province & Stormers Rugby stalwart Schalk Burger has signed a two-year contract with Japanese club, Suntory Sungoliath, but he will continue to be available to play for the DHL Stormers.

“First of all, I think everybody would agree with me when I say that Schalk Burger has been one of WP Rugby’s most loyal sons of the modern professional rugby era,” said WPRFU President Thelo Wakefield.

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Deon Fourie

Deon Fourie

DHL StormersThe Stormers will be without the services of hooker Deon Fourie for their Super Rugby match against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

While coach Allister Coetzee on Thursday named Fourie as his starting hooker for the game at Kings Park, it has been revealed that he had to pull out due to concussion.

This means the inexperienced Stephan Coetzee moves into the starting team to face Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis, while Mike Willemse is likely to take Coetzee’s place on the bench.

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Manuel Carizza

Manuel Carizza

Argentinian lock Manuel Carizza looks set to make a return to Super Rugby after an injury-enforced lay-off from the game.

The towering second-row forward tore wrist ligaments early in the season when playing in the Stormers’ second game of the 2014 season.

He looked in fine nick at Monday’s training session at City Park, and Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said he’ll be considered for the run-on XV for Saturday’s derby against the table-topping Sharks in Durban.

Wing Kobus van Wyk, one of the four try-scorers against the Cheetahs last weekend, has another wrist injury and he will possibly be sidelined for three weeks.

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