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Brussow, Schalla, Matfield back in Bok fold

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World champion Springboks Victor Matfield and Schalk Burger as well as two former Blitzbok stars, Cornal Hendricks and S’bura Sithole, are included in a 36-man squad to attend a national training camp in Durban from 25 to 28 May, the South African Rugby Union announced on Monday.

brussow

Cell C Sharks back Sithole and Hendricks, the SA Sevens Player of the Year in 2013, are two of eight uncapped players in the squad. The others are the Toyota Cheetahs duo of Lood de Jager (lock) and Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje (loose forward); Marcel van der Merwe (prop) and Jacques du Plessis (flank/lock) of the Vodacom Bulls; Marnitz Boshoff (flyhalf) of the Lions and the DHL Stormers’ Damian De Allende (centre/wing).

They will join Matfield, Burger and Toyota Cheetahs flanker Heinrich Brüssow – who are back in the national set up for the first time since the last Rugby World Cup in 2011 – in a training squad that is missing a number of players due to injury.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said he was happy with the form of a number of the country’s top players and the uncapped players who have grabbed their chance this season, as well as the re-appearance from retirement and long-term injury of Matfield and Burger.

“Victor and Schalk have been out of rugby for a long time. They’ve really been in great form recently and the fact that they have not been with the Boks for more than two years, has made them hungry for Test rugby yet again,” said Meyer.

“It’s great to welcome them back into the Springbok fold and I know both of them can still add a lot of value to the team with the Rugby World Cup in 2015 looming.

“I’m also looking forward to working with Heinrich for the first time. He’s been playing very well for the Toyota Cheetahs since returning from injury and brings a lot of experience.

“However, the message to every player in this training squad is clear – everyone must accelerate in each area from the first moment we are together as a team and that inclusion in this squad is no guarantee of selection.”

Meyer said that injuries had been a concern but they had allowed other players to press their claims. A number of players in the squad are still nursing niggles or recently returned from long-term injuries.

“It looks like most of the guys are improving weekly and a few new players have put up their hands, which is good to see with the first match of the season, against the World XV in Cape Town, only a few weeks away.” said Meyer.

“It’s also very encouraging to see a bunch of new players emerging from Vodacom Super Rugby. This camp will provide us with a great opportunity to work with these players before the squad for the Castle Lager Incoming Series is finalised. I am looking forward to work with these players for the first time.

“This is a very big year for us and the players know they will have to step up a gear, be sharp and focused from the moment we get going in Durban. We have 14 very challenging matches ahead in 2014 and it’s imperative that we build on what was a good season last year.

“It’s important that we start building continuity because there are just 18 matches left until the Rugby World Cup starts. But it’s just as important to recognise continuous good form. We also have a number of players struggling with injury niggles or returning from injury which we have to assess.”

Players based in France, England and Ireland were not considered for this camp as most of them are still playing for their respective clubs.

However, the experienced Fourie du Preez, who played for the Springboks in 2013, has been invited to the camp in Durban as he is available for the Castle Lager Incoming Series against Wales and Scotland as well as against the Samsung-sponsored World XV.

The players invited to the training camp will assemble in Durban on Sunday morning and will return to their franchises on Wednesday morning.

“We have a good working relationship with our local franchises and we have to thank them, as well as Suntory in Japan, for allowing their players to attend this camp,” said Meyer.

Players who were involved with the Springboks last year, but were not considered for selection because of medium to long-term injuries, are Scarra Ntubeni (foot), Chiliboy Ralepelle (knee), Frik Kirsten (neck), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee), Franco van der Merwe (ankle), Arno Botha (knee), Pierre Spies (bicep), Louis Schreuder (hand), Pat Lambie (bicep), Gio Aplon (elbow) and Jaque Fourie, who could potentially miss the entire Test season because of an ankle injury.

The 36-man Springbok training squad is:

Forwards (20): Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Toyota Cheetahs), Marcel van der Merwe (Vodacom Bulls)*, Jannie du Plessis (Cell C Sharks), Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers), Coenie Oosthuizen (Toyota Cheetahs), Bismarck du Plessis (Cell C Sharks), Adriaan Strauss (Toyota Cheetahs), Eben Etzebeth (DHL Stormers), Lood de Jager (Toyota Cheetahs)*, Victor Matfield (Vodacom Bulls), Flip van der Merwe (Vodacom Bulls), Heinrich Brüssow (Toyota Cheetahs), Marcell Coetzee (Cell C Sharks), Siya Kolisi (DHL Stormers), Willem Alberts (Cell C Sharks), Jacques du Plessis (Vodacom Bulls)*, Teboho Mohoje (Toyota Cheetahs)*, Duane Vermeulen (DHL Stormers), Schalk Burger (DHL Stormers).

Backs (16): Fourie du Preez (Suntory, Japan), Francois Hougaard (Vodacom Bulls), Johan Goosen (Toyota Cheetahs), Marnitz Boshoff (Lions)*, Jean de Villiers (DHL Stormers), Damian De Allende (DHL Stormers)*, Jan Serfontein (Vodacom Bulls), Juan de Jongh (DHL Stormers), JJ Engelbrecht (Vodacom Bulls), S’bura Sithole (Cell C Sharks)*, Frans Steyn (Cell C Sharks), Lwazi Mvovo (Cell C Sharks), Bjorn Basson (Vodacom Bulls), JP Pietersen (Cell C Sharks), Cornal Hendricks (Toyota Cheetahs)*, Willie le Roux (Toyota Cheetahs).

 

* – Uncapped at Test level

Schalk Burger blow by blow

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Schalk Burger has explained exactly how a pre-season calf strain eventually resulted in him ending up in intensive care fighting off bacterial meningitis.

Mon, 03 Jun 2013 12:31

The Springbok flank has not played since February 2012, and as a result has been the subject of much speculation, with his comeback postponed a few times due to a series of complications.

He addressed the media at Newlands on Monday and gave a full explanation of how a calf injury led to an operation on a cyst near his spine which in turn resulted in serious illness.

“Obviously there has been a lot of speculation but basically what happened was I started training with the Stormers at the beginning of this year and I felt reasonably good.

“After a while, in about 40 minutes of training or so, probably the equivalent of about 3km of running, I felt some spasticity in my left calf and when that happened I started to pull up because I was scared that I would tear or pull my calf muscle.

“Eventually I went for a back scan and it showed up that I had a cyst in my back right next to my spinal chord. I went in for an operation to relieve the pressure by draining the cyst, and unfortunately I picked up a hospital bug which led to bacterial meningitis,” he said.

Burger admitted that there were a few nervous moments for his family as he fought off the meningitis in isolation.

“There was a critical stage for about four, nearly five days in which there was a lot of uncertainty. Obviously through that period I was in isolation and I was seriously ill, so ill in fact that some people around me thought ‘this is it’.”

“Luckily I got through that and also draining the cyst wasn’t good enough so they had to come up with a new gameplan and that was actually removing the cyst.

“Unfortunately after that I had to have another three back operations. Where I am at now is that I am busy recovering, the cyst has been removed completely so I am just recovering from the bacterial meningitis,” he explained.

The Stormers stalwart said that the unkown ‘hospital bug’ that he contracted during the initial operation to drain the cyst had simply been a case of bad luck which could have happened to anyone else.

“I contracted a bug which led to bacterial meningitis, but they couldn’t pinpoint exactly what bug it was. I was basically lying in isolation in a room and not able to do much.

“I hade headaches, nausea and I was getting quite a lot of convulsions – not quite seizures but it was certainly close – so I was seriously ill and that was just unfortunate.

“I suppose when you make a hole anywhere there is the chance of infection and getting a bug. That was the serious part, and that happened just after the first procedure so it was just bad luck on my behalf,” he said.

The cyst, which has been there for about the last ten years, has since been completely removed and Burger said that he is grateful that it was identified before it did any long-term damage.

“No-one is really sure what it is about, but it could be trauma-related so it could have been a rugby injury. But it was there for a long time – approximately ten years.

“I am thankful that they caught it at that stage, because if they hadn’t it could have done some long-term damage.

“The bunch of neurosurgeons working on my case decided to have a look. They drained the cyst and analysed the contents thereof, which was benign, there was nothing serious.

“Then I fell ill and I think that influenced the way I was healing so after my illness they decided to remove it completely,” he said.

Burger hopes to return to the playing field once he recovers fully from the meningitis, which could be later this year, and joked that the Stormers’ form this season is not helping the speed of his recuperation.

“I can understand now why coaches lose hair, go grey and get pretty uptight. I think it has been a year of near-misses, I don’t think we have had any luck on or off the pitch.

“I hope for my health they start winning because my nerves and my fingernails haven’t lasted too well this year,” he quipped.

By Michael de Vries

Schalk contracts bacterial meningitis

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Schalk Burger has contracted bacterial meningitis following an operation on his calf.

Taute, Jantjies make Stormers debut, still no Schalk

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Allister Coetzee, the DHL Stormers head coach, has announced his team for Friday’s 2013 Vodacom Super Rugby opener against the Bulls in Pretoria (kick-off 19h10).

Burger likely to miss opening game

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Stormers captain Schalk Burger and centre Juan de Jongh have both been ruled out of Saturday’s final Super Rugby warm-up match against the Boland Cavaliers at the Cape Town Stadium.

Burger confirmed as Stormers captain

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A fit again Schalk Burger will once again lead the Stormers for the 2013 Super Rugby campaign.

Still on target

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It is easy to criticize and say what Meyer is not getting right at the moment, but has anyone sat back to consider what he is being quite successful in doing in only 7 tests?

Coetzee likely to rest stars for Lions

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The much anticipated return of loose forwards Schalk Burger and Nick Koster for the Stormers’ clash against the Lions on Saturday has been put on hold.

Bekker set to return for Stormers

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Springbok lock Andries Bekker is expected to be fit to play in the Stormers’ next Super Rugby match against the Lions on June 30.

Building bridges

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Where Meyer is now more confident in including a number of youngsters for the upcoming test series against England, his most important decision remains who he will select as skipper.

Koster also crocked

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The DHL Stormers injury woes has taken a turn for the worst as it was confirmed that Nick Koster is also on his way back to SA following a knee injury.

News on Schalk not good

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DHL Stormers captain Schalk Burger left the field early in the match against the Hurricanes and the mood surrounding his injury is not good.

Burger will lead Stormers against Lions

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Springbok flanker Schalk Burger will captain the Stormers in Friday’s Super Rugby warm-up clash against the Lions at Newlands.

‘Schalk must skipper Boks’ – Smit

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The leader of the Stormers, Schalk Burger, is the right man to take over the captaincy of the Springboks.

Burger back to captain Stormers

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Schalk Burger returns to captain the Stormers team for the Sharks this weekend.

Schalk, Elstadt sidelined

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Gavin Rich reported on SuperRugby.co.za that although the team announcement for the Stormers will only take place later today, the names of Elstadt and Burger will not feature on the team sheet.

Schalk will miss Cheetahs clash

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The Stormers will be without influential captain Schalk Burger for Saturday’s Super Rugby match against the Cheetahs.

De Jongh, Burger out of Bok tour

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Schalk Burger and Juan de Jongh have been withdrawn from the Springbok squad as a result of injuries suffered in Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup final.

Schalk looking for WP contract extension

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Schalk Burger will be playing in his first Currie Cup final for Western Province on Saturday, but is hopeful that it won’t be his last.

SA Rugby spooked by ‘Whingers’ tag

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The trouble with being branded whingeing losers and the like is that when there is actually valid reason to whinge, you suddenly stop doing so.

Schalk IS a fetcher

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Well to David Pocock at least he is…

Have the current Boks hit the ceiling?

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Two recent performances from the Springboks have raised some serious questions about the team that should take us to World Cup success next year, and whether the current crop has hit the ceiling, or still has a lot to offer Bok rugby.  We asked Dr. Ross Tucker, an expert in the field of sport science for his opinions on the matter.

Boks for Bafana

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Here are some quotes from Bok management and players in support of our National Soccer team who will kick off the Soccer World Cup this Friday when they take on Mexico.

Combo’s and Super 14 form were deciding factors

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The form of the Vodacom Bulls and the Vodacom Stormers during the 2010 Super 14 is reflected in the selection of the Springbok team to face Six Nations champions France in a one-off encounter at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

Flip set for Bok debut

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Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has selected his strongest available team for Saturday’s Test against France at Newlands.

Schalla to succeed John as Bok skipper?

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There was a time when he walked a disciplinary tightrope, but Schalk Burger appears to be on course to succeed John Smit as Springbok captain.

No action against Burger

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The South African Rugby Union (SARU) are not planning any action against Stormers captain Schalk Burger.

Burger sidelined

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The Vodacom Stormers suffered a major setback when it was announced on Monday that captain Schalk Burger will miss Friday evening’s Vodacom Super 14 match against the Brumbies at Newlands.

Burger not shifting from 6

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Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has quashed rumours that Schalk Burger may be shifting positions during the coming Super 14 campaign.

WP won’t risk Schalk

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Springbok flank Schalk Burger has been ruled out of Western Province’s Currie Cup clash against the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday but Gio Aplon and Brok Harris should be fit to play.

Can rugby genius be coached?

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“This guy just has so much time on the ball.” Ever heard that expression? Sure you did.