‘Hooper won’t forget Burger battle’

Phil Waugh says Michael Hooper can expect a bruising encounter with Schalk Burger, should the two meet during the Rugby Championship Test at Newlands.

Burger was recalled to the Springbok squad last week following the injury to Francois Louw. The 71-Test veteran last turned out for the Boks in the No 7 jersey against Scotland in June, a position he has filled with aplomb in the past.

'Every time I played Schalk there were plenty of fists in the face both ways; but it was always a healthy competitiveness,' the former Wallabies back rower, who competed against Burger 12 times at Test level, told the Sydney Morning Herald. 'We always caught up after for a beer. It'll be a great experience for “Hoops”. He [Burger] is such a unique and great competitor.'

At 1.84m and 101kg, Hooper gives away quite a bit in the physicality stakes to the combative Burger, who stands 10cm taller and 13kg heavier. Despite his slighter frame, Hooper is a thrifty player at the breakdown and is second only to Marcell Coetzee in turnovers won during the Rugby Championship this year.

'Burger is a very different player to Hooper,' Waugh said. 'He is very much a running back rower really. He is very tough at the breakdown, but more [with] the clearing out rather than fetching on the ground.

'He is all about throwing the weight around at the breakdown, rather than strategically or tactically fetching the ball.'

Waugh is expecting a physical onslaught from the South Africans at Newlands, something the Wallabies will have to withstand if they're to claim victory and, along with it, the Springboks' No 2 ranking.

'It's with all the South Africans, you can't take a backward step,' Waugh said. 'You have to be at their throat, especially over there. If you give them room and space and they get a lot of momentum and then they get their tails up and away they go.'

Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images