Stormers captain Schalk Burger has targeted an improvement in his team's defensive breakdown and will look to lead the way in his potential duel with star Cheetahs openside flank Heinrich Brüssow this weekend.
Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie told this website that although they intend to play Brüssow this weekend he has been battling with a slight calf strain, and while it is not serious his availability to start at Newlands will only be confirmed on Thursday.
The Cape team was hit by three late yellow cards for repeated infringements at the breakdown in their victory over the Lions last week, and Burger knows that taking on a player of the calibre of Brüssow will be the ultimate test of their capabilities on the ground.
He said: "In the previous match our defensive breakdown wasn't very good. We weren't too bad at the attacking breakdown but defensively we found ourselves falling on the wrong side and not really getting out the way so we will look to improve our decision-making around that.
"Playing against the Cheetahs they have got Heinrich there and he is very good at the breakdown, so I think it is going to be a challenge, the breakdown is always tough, but hopefully we can improve," added the Stormers skipper.
Burger explained that he intends to make the most of the opportunity to gain clarity from referee Craig Joubert on the way that the laws will be interpreted in the Super Rugby competition this year.
"Every year there is different application of the law. They are going to be strict at the breakdown, as we saw the other day [against the Lions], and the scrum calling has changed again so it is good to get used to it.
"In a warm-up match like this which won't be on TV you get opportunities at the water breaks after 20 minutes when you can chat to the ref. Craig [Joubert] is not getting evaluated on it and he is not wearing a microphone so I am actually allowed to ask him a few questions on the field," said Burger.
The Stormers stalwart dismissed suggestions that the players would be holding themselves back in the pre-season clash, as apart from the fringe players who will be keen to secure a spot in the final Super Rugby squad the frontline players will have their personal pride to play for.
Burger commented: "I suppose the intensity of these warm-up matches is not quite up to the real thing, but it is still physical and all the boys that play out there are very proud.
"No-one likes to get run over, bumped off or tackled backwards so they tend to start off reasonably slowly and then after ten minutes or so you hear a few grunts coming out and the guys get upset so they are never really that friendly," he said.
Burger's potential duel with Brüssow could be a highlight as the two seek to land an early blow in the fight for the Springbok No.6 jersey this year.
By Michael de Vries
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