All Blacks great Sir Richie McCaw has listed a Springbok icon as one of the toughest opponents he has faced in his career.
McCaw, who played 148 times for the All Blacks and captained them to two World Cup trophies, has rated Schalk Burger as the second-toughest opponent he faced in his career.
McCaw and Burger squared up many times against each other at international and club levels and it’s testimony to their often bruising encounters that Burger features so high on the list.
‘You can come up against another tough team but never feel like you have had a tough match against your opposite. But with Burger you knew where they are going to be and how hard they play near the ball,’ McCaw highlighted in a recent article on Ruck.co.uk.
McCaw isn’t the only All Black to have emphasised the toughness of the 86-capped Burger. Dan Carter described Burger as ‘the toughest player he’s ever faced mentally’. His sentiments are echoed by Kiwi loose forward Liam Messam.
‘That guy just has zero fear and zero care for his body – he would just fly into things. When I’m on the park, I always want to test myself against the biggest and the strongest and although there may be some monsters playing in the loosies now, no one could hit you harder than Schalk Burger.’
Also making McCaw’s list are former French captain Thierry Dussatoir, David Pocock, Richard Hill – who played for England and the Lions – and legendary Wallaby back rower George Smith.
Smith occupies the top spot as the toughest McCaw has faced. He played 111 times for Australia in an international career spanning 13 years.