Rudolph Jacobs
Rugby Journalist
1 minute read
16 Jan 2014
6:00 am

Best friends and now co-leaders

Rudolph Jacobs

They are not only the best of friends but Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger will head up the Stormers leadership in this year's Super Rugby campaign together.

FILE PICTURE: Jean de Villiers. Picture: Gallo Images.

Head coach Allister Coetzee yesterday retained Springbok captain De Villiers as his leader, but with Burger’s appointment as the vice-captain made it clear that both will play key roles which could even include alternating the captaincy.

“It’s important for us to manage them both properly,” said Coetzee.

“Jean and Schalk are both top-class rugby players and leaders, who also happen to be very close friends dating back to their schooldays.

“Schalk only recently made his return to top-level rugby after a long period out, while Jean after leading his country with plenty of success in 2012 and 2013 will be a key figure for the Springboks in the lead-up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup,” said Coetzee.

Burger, 30, who played 68 Tests for the Boks including the 2011 World Cup, missed almost the entire 2012 and 2013 seasons due to hamstring injuries and serious bacterial meningitis, made only four appearances for Western Province off the bench and an outing for the Barbarians late last year, since his last competitive game in February 2012.

Burger is one of 10 internationals which also include new signing, lock Manuel Carizza (Argentina), and utility back Scott van Breda, who is on loan from the Kings, included in a 38-man Stormers squad who started a week-long training in Hermanus on Monday in preparation for their first warm-up game against the Bulls in Polokwane on February 1.

The one big name missing from the group is young Bok lock Eben Etzebeth who underwent ankle surgery in December and is not expected to return before late July.

The Stormers also have outings against the Kings (February 7) and Boland (February 15).

Their opening game is on February 22 against the Lions at Ellis Park.