Cape Town – There was a comical moment at Saturday’s post-match press conference at Newlands when Stormers coach Robbie Fleck was asked if Schalk Burger had been working on his tactical kicking at training.
It may have been a light-hearted joke, but Burger has been spending noticeably more time in the flyhalf channel this season.
“He was in that flyhalf position again,” Fleck joked after his side’s impressive 31-11 win over the Brumbies.
“At least it worked this time. He actually played really well. I think he varied his game nicely … he was nice and hard on the carry and he made some good passes.”
But a look at the statistics suggests that Burger is still putting in the hard graft.
According to the Vodacom Rugby website, Burger has made 50 carries in the tournament so far – comfortably more than any other South African.
He is second only to Chiefs fullback Damian McKenzie (54), while the next best placed South African is Lions centre Howard Mnisi (41).
Granted the Stormers have played four matches while the Bulls and Kings have only played three, but Burger’s stats are still impressive considering that the Lions and the Sharks have both played four games.
But while Burger is taking more crash ball than anybody else in the country, he is not making many metres … just 55 all season.
Meanwhile, Burger has also not been as effective on the ground this season.
Sharks loosie Marcell Coetzee leads the way with nine turnovers while the Kings’ Chris Cloete has seven and Nizaam Carr (Stormers), Sergeal Petersen (Cheetahs) and CJ Velleman (Kings) have five each.
Burger has won just two turnovers.
The 2016 Super Rugby season will be Burger’s last for the Stormers, having confirmed he’s on his way to Saracens in England on a two-year deal after its conclusion.
Burger, 32, has not given any indication yet as to what his intentions are for his international future.
He has 86 caps for the Springboks.