Thursday, April 12, 2007

Keo's article (sorry about the delay -I had lost the link!)

Burger braces for McCaw magic
Thursday 22 March 2007

Schalk Burger believes the Vodacom Stormers need to be especially clinical at the breakdown to win in Christchurch.

The Springbok flanker will alternate with captain Luke Watson in his quest for breakdown supremacy, but in terms of challenges, it does not get any harder than competing against All Black openside Richie McCaw. The Kiwi captain may not have played competitive rugby since November, but the Stormers are taking nothing for granted.

“It’s hard to say for certain whether he will be lacking any of that edge,” Burger told “But if I had to judge on past encounters, I’d say it’s going to be another tough game. I always enjoy playing against Richie and it’s always a great contest.”

McCaw will be joined by fellow All Black Reuben Thorne and Mose Tuiali’i. Leon MacDonald, Aaron Mauger, Dan Carter and Chris Jack will all start against the Stormers as well.

McCaw had an outstanding Vodacom Super 14 last year, and was far and away the best fetcher. His stats confirm this fact, as he averaged three turnovers a game and slowed down opponent attacks at a rate of eight times a match.

Watson was not far behind with two turnovers and nine ball slows every game, but the stats after this fixture will read very differently as the left-right flanking combination of the Stormers dictates Watson and Burger share the openside role.

Burger played blindside for the majority of last year’s competition, but has enjoyed many epic battles against McCaw at Test level. But neither will be able to function if their tight-five fails to fire, and Burger has emphasised the need to gain forward ascendancy.

“They are very strong up front and so we need to carry on with the form we showed here last week. Our defence also needs to be especially strong, as they are the type of side that will punish you when given half the chance.

“Things are going well at the moment, but we are under no illusions that last week’s performance was a great one. The win was good and we needed it badly, but we will have to be better against the Crusaders this Saturday.”

The Stormers have been inconsistent this season, but no more than they were in 2006 where they won just four games. One of those victories, however, was a 28-17 win against the Crusaders which goes to show they have the talent to succeed.

They certainly have the individuals, but whether they repeat this performance and come home from tour with a winning record will depend on how effective they are as a unit. Kobus van der Merwe has stated a loss is not the end of their campaign, but a defeat will set back a team that is still not playing to their full potential.
By Jon Cardinelli

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