Schalk Burger a ‘greater threat than ever’

Stormers flanker Schalk Burger is a greater threat than ever to the Stormers’ Super 14 opponents, says Jerry Collins, star loose forward of the Hurricanes.

The tough All Black, who will oppose the Springbok star at Newlands on Saturday, has been impressed by the way Burger and Luke Watson combine, reports RugbyHeaven website.

”Under Rassie Erasmus’s coaching, Schalk has also become a guy who can use a step to beat an opponent and who plays with the ball a lot more,” Collins said in Cape Town this week.

The battle between the two sets of loose forwards should be one of the highlights of Saturday’s match.

Collins, Rodney So’oialo and Chris Masoe have played in a total of 109 Test matches for New Zealand.

As is the case with some of the other combinations in the Hurricanes side, the formidable trio have been playing together for several seasons. ”We’ve known each other since our days at university. Those are not the prettiest faces to look at, but we complement each other well,” Collins said.

Burger has played in 39 Tests for South Africa and Watson in one. Their loose-forward partner, Francois Louw, is playing in his first Super 14 season.

Watson has been outstanding at number eight and Louw has turned into an unsung hero who gets through a huge amount of work at breakdown points.

”The way Schalk plays now will extend his career,” said Collins, who is known for his tough tackling but also has splendid ball skills and has become one of the danger men in the Hurricanes side.

”The new laws make it more difficult to make really hard tackles,” he explained. ”The ball is in play for longer and the teams have big guys who can beat you with a step. ”I am more concerned about the number of tackles I make than with the type of tackles.”

He said the Hurricanes were not reading too much into their 50-22 victory over the Bulls, the 2007 champions, last week.

”It was a good way to start our tour, but the Bulls are struggling. We played well, but they played poorly. The Stormers are a different kettle of fish. They have momentum and they’re playing well.

”Rassie has a good style of coaching. The Stormers are one of the more spectacular sides in the Super 14. We hope Newlands will be packed on Saturday.”

There could well be more than 40 000 spectators after the rugby the Stormers produced against the Cheetahs last week, particularly in the first half.

”Cape Town is one of the nicest places to visit,” Collins added. ”The people are so friendly and historically there are groups of people who support the All Blacks, because of apartheid. This is like a second home. The people in Pretoria are also friendly, but only after the match.” — Sapa

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