When Stormers skipper Schalk Burger admits to having pre-match butterflies, one can only imagine how excited the younger players are ahead of their Super Rugby home semifinal against the Crusaders at Newlands on Saturday.
While most openside flanks do not relish having to keep Crusaders captain Richie McCaw under wraps, Burger simply sees it as another “tussle” between old foes.
The Capetonian captain would, however, not be drawn into saying too much about McCaw.
“I don’t think I have to say anything about him [McCaw],” said Burger.
“He’s pretty well documented and he’s probably the best loose forward to ever play rugby.
“We’ve had some good tussles in the past and I’m sure this weekend will be another one.”
Looking ahead to what could very well be a rain-drenched battle at Newlands — a 30% chance of rain has been forecast for the match — Burger highlighted that the men from Christchurch are capable of adapting to all conditions.
“You don’t become a champion side if you can’t adapt to conditions,” he said. “If it happens to be raining on Saturday we will just have to play the conditions — it is as simple as that.”
A standout feature of this Super Rugby season has been the passion the Crusaders have played with following the devastating earthquakes in their hometown in February.
The Crusaders had to forfeit their opening match — against the Hurricanes, and the teams got two points each — of the season and were forced to play their home matches in Nelson and Timaru.
“It is a terrible thing that happened, but at the end of the day it can either bring a side together or splinter it and they’ve pulled together remarkably and have done Christchurch proud,” said Burger.
“They are going to be determined, as are we.”
While the Crusaders will be playing for their fans who are currently rebuilding their lives, the empty trophy cabinets at Newlands should be motivation enough for the home side.
“Hopefully by now their trophy cabinet is pretty full — I think it is seven or 700 trophies they’ve won in the last five or 10 years and we haven’t won any,” said Burger.
“Both sides have different motivation and that all makes for an exciting contest on the weekend. — Sapa