Hit King Schalk Burger has seen off no less than eight challengers, but can the ferocious flank retain the throne against former Springbok captain John Smit?
Burger has fended off all of Courtney Lawes, Bismarck du Plessis, Brian Lima, Bakkies Botha (twice), Henry Tuilagi, Willem Alberts and Manu Tuilagi to keep his title for rugby’s biggest hit. Last week, Burger was once again the overwhelming favourite against England centre Tuilagi, earning 92% of votes.
However, Burger will now have to again defend his title against another former Bok captain in Smit.
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In a 2009 Tri-Nations Test against the All Blacks in Hamilton, Smit was able to exact sweet vengeance on New Zealand lock Brad Thorn, who infamously dumped him in the previous year’s Test in Wellington. With the Springboks leading 22-12 early in the second half, Frans Steyn cleared the ball into the All Blacks side of the halfway line. Jimmy Cowan opted to take a quick throw-in, passing the ball to Thorn. Unfortunately for the All Blacks enforcer, he did not spot Smit racing up towards him and the Bok captain smashed him in a big hit and enforced the knock-on.
Western Province hosted the Blue Bulls in the 2009 Currie Cup semi-final and Schalk Burger obliterated Springbok teammate Fourie du Preez with a hit that brought the Newlands faithful to their feet.