Schalk Burger completes miraculous comeback

2014-06-26 13:39

One of South Africa’s favourite sons will return to the Springbok starting line-up for Saturday’s test against Scotland, in Port Elizabeth, to complete one of the greatest Springbok comebacks.

A year ago, Burger (31) was recovering from life-threatening bacterial meningitis and the thought of returning to the rugby field was far from his mind.

“I was in a bit of strife then so being back here, you enjoy every moment. Once the Springbok jersey has been taken away from you, you realise how much you’ve missed it,” Burger said.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to work my way back up here and I am enjoying every single moment.”

Burger has been on an arduous journey after he injured his knee in the opening match of the 2012 Super Rugby season.

He hurt his calf ahead of the start of the 2013 Super Rugby season and contracted the infection while in hospital after undergoing surgery on a nerve in his back.

Visibly thinner, Burger made his return to competitive rugby and turned out for Western Province in a Currie Cup match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in September last year.

He featured in the Currie Cup final before proving, in this year’s Super Rugby season for the Stormers, that he still possessed an appetite and the ability to play at the highest level.

Burger will now make his Springbok return in the starting line-up on Saturday for the first time since the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The fiery flanker used to be known for his physicality and exhausting work rate but has since added some creative touches with the ball.

Replacing the injured Willem Alberts, who had in recent years picked up the reputation of the bone collector, Burger could play a different role for the Boks.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said Burger’s versatility made him an important asset to the team where he could play as a backup eighthman to Duane Vermeulen.

“The great thing about Schalk is he can play six, seven and eight. I still think eight is his best position going forward and Duane has been playing a lot of rugby there as well,” Meyer said.

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