Proud Schalk Burger to lead Springboks’ charge against All Blacks
Experienced loose forward Schalk Burger will become the 55th Springbok captain when he leads out South Africa against New Zealand on Saturday in Johannesburg,
The unmistakable 32-year old is one of the stars of the modern game and has been making a sizable impression since bursting onto the international stage at the age of 20.
And now, with injuries to pair Jean de Villiers and Victor Matfield, he assumed the captaincy ahead of this weekend Rugby Championship crunch match.
“Schalk has been a magnificent servant of Springbok rugby and he fully deserves this responsibility,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer in a press conference on Tuesday.
“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.
“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.”
Burger, who has captained Super Rugby side Stormers and Wester Province, worked his way back into Spingboks contention after recovering from serious illness to become the joint tenth most-capped Springbok on Saturday, winning his 77th cap to move level with lock forward Mark Andrews.
But the flanker, who made his introduction to Test rugby at the World Cup in 2003, said he was proud and humbled by Meyer’s choice to name him captain.
“I’m a very proud man today, but at the same time I’m humbled by the faith the coach has shown in me,” admitted Burger.
“Ever since I first 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.
“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.”
Did you know: His father, Schalk (Snr) Burger, played six Tests for South Africa between 1984 and 1986.