Bok loose forward Schalk Burger says it’s surreal to be preparing for his fourth World Cup, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Durban.
The 79-Test veteran made an incredible return to international rugby last year after recovering from life-threatening bacterial meningitis, and on Friday he was named as one of five specialist loose forwards in the World Cup squad.
‘When I returned to rugby, making it to this World Cup was the big goal, but to be here is surreal,' he commented. 'It’s a great privilege to be involved in another World Cup, but now the big work starts. We want to perform on the world stage, we won it back in 2007 and there is no greater feeling.’
Burger also admitted his near-death experience had changed his perspective and approach to the game.
‘It doesn’t really feel like my fourth World Cup, but obviously going into a big tournament like this, I’ve experienced the good and the bad over the years, and hopefully those experiences will all stand me in good stead.
'This is going to be a very special experience, in 2003 I was just a youngster coming out all guns blazing. Now I'm in a different phase of life with a young family. I've obviously gone through quite a bit, but I think I'm probably a better rugby player for it. What I may lack in what I had in the physical aspects, I think I've probably gained in wisdom and skill set.'
Burger has started all four Tests at No 8 this year, but is likely to have a different role at the World Cup.
‘I think the plan at the beginning of the year was to do the utility job, and I did it at the Stormers as well, so while I've been starting at No 8 recently, Duane [Vermeulen] has recovered [from a neck injury], so wherever they find a spot for me I’ll be happy.’
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