The 75-Test loose forward pulled up at training on Thursday with a groin injury and sources have confirmed that he has been ruled out of the wildcard play-off against the sixth-placed Brumbies.
The match marks the end of a two-year absence from the knockout stages for the Stormers and the timing of Burger’s injury couldn’t be any worse for coach Allister Coetzee, who has spent the past fortnight planning around the loss of captain Duane Vermeulen to what appears to be a season-ending neck injury.
Burger and fellow Springbok Vermeulen are the most experienced and, arguably, most respected forwards in a pack that has underwritten the Cape side’s return to relevance in 2015.
Both stalwarts anchored the starting XV in a fiery showdown with the Brumbies when they visited Cape Town in May. The Stormers held on to sneak away with a fortuitous 25-24 win.
“Physicality, physicality, physicality,” is what Coetzee labelled as the ingredient most crucial to producing a repeat performance against the Australians.
Burger’s place in the team has been taken by Michael Rhodes, who will pack down at blindside flank, with Siya Kolisi manning the vacuum in the No 6 jersey and linkman Nizaam Carr completing the back row. Sikhumbuzo Notshe has been called up to the matchday squad.
Like Carr, Notshe adds quickness and support play to a pack that will be required to shield a diminutive backline by dominating the collisions and thus gaining control of the gain-line.
In this regard, Rhodes’ elevation may help the Stormers to achieve Coetzee’s stated objective of building an early lead. However, if Kolisi or Rhodes break down, Carr and Notshe will have to dig deep to match an abrasive Brumbies outfit that conceded 19 penalties in round 13 because, as coach Stephen Larkham said: “We did not stand back.”
As Kolisi pointed out this week, there were question marks about the Stormers’ ability to stand up to the Waratahs in April without Bok-rested Vermeulen.
They toppled the defending champions in Sydney with Carr roaming at No 8 and Burger on the openside.
It’s worth noting that, since Burger returned from Japanese club rugby in February, the Stormers have only won four of eight matches without him and Vermeulen in the starting line-up.
Meanwhile, Matt Toomua was a late inclusion at inside centre for the Brumbies as Robbie Coleman dropped to the bench.
Also, Nigel Ah Wong was added to matchday 23 as James Dargaville lost out. - Weekend Argus
Original source: Burger to miss Brumbies clash