Burger to lead Springboks against mighty All Blacks

2015-07-23 06:01
 PHOTO: getty
Flanker Schalk Burger has been named Springbok captain for this weekend’s Rugby Championship clash against the All Blacks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

PHOTO: getty Flanker Schalk Burger has been named Springbok captain for this weekend’s Rugby Championship clash against the All Blacks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

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SCHALK Burger will become the 55th player to captain the Springboks when he leads the team out against the might of the All Blacks in this weekend’s Rugby Championship action at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

The 32-year-old Burger, who has earned 76 Test caps, and scoring 14 tries — the most by a Springbok flanker — takes over the captaincy from Victor Matfield, who was forced out through injury, and regular skipper Jean de Villiers who is currently working on his match fitness with the Western Province Currie Cup team.

“Schalk has been a magnificent servant of Springbok rugby and he fully deserves the responsibility,” coach Heyneke Meyer said of Burger, who made his Test debut at the ill-fated 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia.

The fact that Burger is still playing rugby is a miracle in itself. His career has been interrupted by lengthy injuries and serious illness, but he has always managed to make a comeback.

“The resilience he’s shown in coming back from serious injury and illness is the kind of qualities I look for in players as well as teams I coach,” said Meyer.

“In my eyes, the captaincy is very important and something I never take lightly or want to cheapen. Schalk’s character and the fact that he has been a role model for so many through the years made this an easy decision.

“He’s always led through example and has distinguished himself as one of the best leaders in South African rugby in the last decade. I’m very excited to see what he can bring in the absence of Jean and Victor,” the coach said.

Burger, son of former Springbok Schalk Burger Sr, said he was proud of the opportunity to captain the team.

“I’m a very proud man today, but at the same time, I’m humbled by the faith the coach has shown in me,” said the all action flanker.

“Evern since I put on the Springbok jersey, my dream has been to represent my country with distinction and to make South Africans proud. It’s still sinking in that I will actually captain the Boks,” he added.

“This is an honour that is bestowed upon only a select few people and I will do whatever is needed for the team. With this position comes massive responsibility and I’m very excited for Saturday.”

Skipper De Villiers suffered a horrific knee injury when the Springboks were playing against Wales at the Millenium Stadium last season, and there were fears that he would not be able to recover in time to take part in the World Cup.

But, the inspirational centre has been making progress which enabled him to take to the field when the Boks took on the World XV in Cape Town two weeks ago.

Last weekend, he played 60 minutes as Western Province lost 19-6 to the Pumas in Paarl.

Although he has been making progress, Meyer has said he won’t risk him by playing him against the All Blacks

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