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Schalk Burger blow by blow

6

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

Rassie not concerned about depth

19

Western Province’s director of coaching Rassie Erasmus says they have enough young tight forwards to be optimistic for the future.

Jaque Fourie’s Japan move confirmed

13

Jaque Fourie will join Japanese club, Panasonic Wild Knights, from November 1, 2011.

WP after Brussow

18

Brenden Nel, for SuperRugby.co.za, has reported that WP and Stormers rugby has made a massive offer to Cheetahs and Springbok loose-forward, Heinrich Brussow.

WP’s double-edged sword

50

Whilst many will applaud Western Province rugby for hanging onto most of their players, it might come at a massive loss.

Stormers win, but ….

22

The Stormers continue to bake a pretty impressive Super Rugby “cake” … but they also keep frustratingly neglecting to put the cherry on top.

Rob Houwing writes for Sport24 that by beating the struggling but ever-spirited Lions 33-19 in a gloomy Johannesburg on Saturday, they returned to winning ways after the home reverse to the Reds last weekend and a record of “played eight, won seven” is quite obviously not to be sniffed at.

The hard-earned triumph consolidated their position at the top of the South African conference, but their struggle for bonus points (they could only score three tries at Coca-Cola Park) is also ensuring, at present, that they are losing a bit of ground on the overall table to pace-setting teams in the New Zealand and Australian conferences.

Not only did the Crusaders and Reds – who were marginally above the Stormers even before the latest round –earn full-house victories this weekend, but the dark horse Blues did that trick too, meaning that they are a third team to have nosed ahead of the Cape franchise in points terms on the full ladder.

The Crusaders and Reds each boast 35 points from eight matches, the Blues have 34 and the Stormers 33.

Of course each conference winner is assured of at least one home match in the eventual finals series, but the worst-placed one of the trio doesn’t march straight to a guaranteed semi-final: they have to play a nasty little extra “sudden death qualifier” against one of the three lesser teams also making the six-team finals cut.

The Stormers will probably argue, and not without reason, that much rugby remains to be played and their team and management certainly all seemed chipper enough about leaving the Highveld with the four basic win points ahead of their overdue bye next weekend.

But another factor to consider is that the Sharks, who had an off-duty round this weekend, now lie only four points adrift of last year’s beaten finalists in second spot on the SA log — despite having lost three times in eight matches to the Stormers’ once.

Keeping them well in the hunt, however, is that they boast five bonus points to the Stormers’ miserly one, which effectively amounts to an extra win.

So as early as next weekend they have an opportunity to edge ahead of Schalk Burger’s men (albeit having played an extra game by then) if they earn maximum points at home against one of the weakest New Zealand links at present, the Hurricanes.

Then, a week later, there is another titanic meeting of the leading South African sides at Newlands, with the Sharks no doubt hell-bent on avenging their loss at Mr Price Kings Park much earlier this month.

So the importance of a healthy bonus points situation cannot be discounted, and the Stormers will be quietly kicking themselves, even as they deservedly celebrate downing the Lions, for winning by “TKO” again rather than the Full Monty.

Certainly they had some golden opportunities to add to their tally in the try department: Gio Aplon once opted to go inside – and was somehow held up short of the line — when he had Conrad Jantjes unmarked on his outside for a near-certain touchdown, and how Juan de Jongh failed to score in the 77th minute after some slightly over-elaborate stepping and then a fatal slip, only he will know.

Still, the Stormers can enjoy their mini-break in a satisfying position, especially with the prime objective of simply atoning for the Reds hiccup achieved.

They always seemed that little bit better and more composed, even when the Lions occasionally hurled the kitchen sink at them, and it must be kept in mind that this win was achieved after some upheaval in the influential flyhalf position.

First Peter Grant pulled out injured a couple of days ahead of the fixture, and then in the 13th minute of the game itself young stand-in Gary van Aswegen, after a sprightly personal start, hobbled off himself.

At least Lionel Cronje, hurried into the fray off the bench, confirmed that he has something about him, occasionally dictating play quite nicely and kicking well off the tee, even if he had some careless moments as well.

But with the ever-challenging Antipodean tour still ahead of the Stormers, a couple of extra points via the bonus route might have come in very handy as a cushion at this stage of the competition …

A bloody disgrace

35

With respect to John Dobson, the Western Province Vodacom Cup coach, it is hard to understand how Lionel Cronje cannot even crack a start at flyhalf for the Western Province Vodacom Cup team.

Stormers gamble with selections

40

DHL Stormers coach, Allister Coetzee has included Peter Grant on the bench while rookie, Gary van Aswegen, will make his Stormers debut.

Watts will provide the spark

18

With the Stormers just one week out from their opening match against the Lions, Allister Coetzee needs to pick his flyhalf now, and stick with him.

Cronje out of flyhalf race

11

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee announced his team for the final warm-up match against Boland this weekend.

Stormers the biggest losers

2

It is not often that the losing coach is the happier one in the post-match press conference.

Plum opts for continuity

2

Sharks coach John Plumtree made minimal changes for the last Neo-Africa Tri-series match at Newlands against the Stormers.

Lions fail to lure Bekker

5

Butch James arrived in Johannesburg via jet this week, but the Golden Lions Rugby Union’s deep pockets could not convince Andries Bekker to move from Cape Town.

Coetzee snubs Cronje (again)

15

Stormers coach, Allister Coetzee has decided to stick with young Gary van Aswegen in the flyhalf position when he selected his team for their warm-up match against the Sharks this Saturday.

DHL becomes new WP Sponsor

25

Western Province Rugby and DHL, the world’s leading logistics company, today announced the signing of a 3 year umbrella sponsorship agreement encompassing all representative WP Rugby teams, the Stormers and Newlands Rugby Stadium, effective 1 January 2011.

Boks call on Stormers defence coach

13

The recent defensive lapses on the away leg of the Tri-Nations have prompted Springbok coach Peter de Villiers to lean on the knowledge and know-how of the best defensive team in the recent Super 14.

Jean and CJ joins Stormers

7

Test veterans Jean de Villiers and CJ van der Linde will join the Stormers Super 15 campaign next year.

Stormers cheated out of fair contest

33

I KNOW northern and southern hemisphere rugby is played to different laws, but I never knew that the northern and southern discrepancy applied to South African rugby.

Stormers have bright future – Meyer

1

The Stormers may have lost Saturday’s Super 14 final to the Bulls, but Heyneke Meyer is predicting a bright future for the team from Cape Town.

Bulls 25, Stormers 17 – S14 Final

26

After 15 weeks of planning, plotting and playing it comes down to this: An 80-minute resolute and unwavering arm-wrestle for the most prized possession outside of the Test arena.

A tale of two Boks

3

I guess it would be hard to describe to the southern tribe how great Orlando Stadium was when the Bulls managed, for a second year in a row, to convincingly beat the Crusaders in the Super 14 semi-finals.

Focus a concern for Bok debutants

1

It is a strange and arguably not ideal dynamic … three rugby players playing probably the two biggest games of their lives, in different jerseys, within the space of a week.

No changes to Stormers XV

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Allister Coetzee stuck with the team that won the semi-final last week to take on the Bulls in the all-South African Super 14 final in Soweto this Saturday.

Bookies backing Bulls

18

South African bookmakers are backing the Bulls to win their third Super 14 final against the Stormers in Soweto on Saturday.

Bulls happy with ref for final

4

Top South African referee Craig Joubert has been rewarded with his first Vodacom Super 14 final, and the Bulls, of all people are rather happy with this.

Stats mean nothing – Ludeke

0

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke believes the fact that this weekend’s Vodacom Super 14 final pits the best defence against the best attack in the competition means little when the sides take the field on Saturday.

Super 14 sold out!

13

Tickets to the Super 14 final at Orlando Stadium in Soweto at the weekend sold out within minutes on Tuesday morning.

Ticket arrangements for Super Final

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The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd would like to announce that the tickets for the Vodacom Super 14 final at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on 29 May 2010 at 17:00 will be available on 25 May 2010. The cost per ticket will be R 350.

Rugby order has been restored

4

Order in the rugby world has been restored, and thank goodness for that!

Vuvuzela’s versus Stormers

4

Will the Stormers also flounder when they face the Vuvuzela-onslaught at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday?

Habana to meet his match

24

No-one is happier than Gerhard van den Heever that the Bulls are playing the Stormers in the Super 14 final at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday.

Power shift in SA Rugby?

66

The Stormers are ready to make more history and swing the balance of power in South African rugby their way at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday.

Stormers 25, Waratahs 6 – Semi final 2

39

It would be difficult to find two more equally matched teams to contest a semifinal than the Stormers and Waratahs.

Make us proud boys!

30

What could be better than a double Super 14-semi weekend in South Africa?  An all South Africa final in Soweto of course!

Odds stacked against Tahs

14

The odds seem stacked against the Waratahs when they meet the Stormers in a Super 14 southern hemisphere championship semi-final at Newlands on Saturday.

Bulls have the tougher game – Joost

14

The big weekend of the long-awaited Super 14 semifinals is here. Two home semifinals is what we wanted, now who wants the final and the cup the most?

Stormers unchanged for semi

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Allister Coetzee made no changes to his match 22 for the semi-final clash at Newlands this Saturday.

Newlands sold out

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The ‘sold-out’ signs have been raised at Newlands for this weekend’s semi-final clash between the Stormers and the Waratahs.

‘Stormers will win Super 14’ – Botes

50

Sharks loose forward Jacques Botes predicts that the Stormers will win this year’s Super 14.

Schalla to succeed John as Bok skipper?

7

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.

Semi-final ticket arrangements

14

For those looking to attend, here are the details for tickets to both semi’s.

Forget the Bulls, look at the Chiefs!

22

JJ Harmse takes a tongue-in-cheek view over the media storm that surrounded the Bulls decision to pick their B-team for their final round-robin match.

Sireli axed from Stormers team

2

Sireli Naqelevuki was dropped from the match-day 22 completely when Allister Coetzee named his team to take on the Bulls.

Blow to Tahs as Bulls set to rest key players

8

It reeks of a South African stitch-up in the Super 14. With one round to go, the integrity of rugby’s premier provincial competition could be compromised with tournament leaders, the Bulls, set to field a second-string team against the Stormers in the top-of-the-table clash in Cape Town.

Kaplan to ref Stormers/Bulls

22

ALL THE WEEKEND’S REFEREE APPOINTMENTS
South Africa’s top referee, Jonathan Kaplan, will referee the Stormers v Bulls Super 14 clash at Newlands on Saturday.

Bulls confirm resting players – De Wet Barry surpise inclusion?

10

Bulls captain Victor Matfield confirmed through Twitter that they will rest some key players for this weekend’s clash against the Stormers at Newlands.

Sharks did Stormers a favour

14

Sharks coach John Plumtree reckons his team’s 20-14 win over the Stormers in Durban at the weekend might have been exactly what the beaten team needs heading into the make or break play-off stage of the Super 14.

Bulls to rest stars?

1

The  Bulls look set to rest a number of key players from Saturday’s Super14 match against the Stormers.

Pienaar at 10 for Sharks

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Sharks coach John Plumtree made some interesting changes to his team who will host the Stormers this weekend.

Habs out, Joe back on Stormers bench

0

Bryan Habana won’t be rushed back which sees Tim Whitehead getting a starting spot on the left wing for the Stormers clash against the Sharks this Saturday in Durban.