Burger to captain Springboks against All Blacks

Schalk Burger will play for Saracens next season

South Africa’s loose forward Schalk Burger has been confirmed as Springbok
captain for this weekend’s Test match against New Zealand at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

Thirty-two-year-old Burger will be the 55th Springbok captain and will be acting
as an interim captain, in the absence of the injured Jean de Villiers and Victor
Matfield.

Burger takes over from Matfield who has been ruled out of action in the short
term after suffering a hamstring strain against Australia on Saturday.

“Schalk has been a magnificent servant of Springbok rugby and he fully
deserves this responsibility, ” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer 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 has captained the Stormers and Western Province with distinction
and will become the tenth most-capped Springbok on Saturday, winning his 77th
cap, moving level with lock forward Mark Andrews.

He overcame serious injury and illness in 2014 to fight his way back into Springbok
contention, recapturing the form that made him one of the most highly regarded
loose forwards in world rugby.

He was named World Rugby Player of the Year (2004) and has twice been named
the SA Rugby Player of the Year, in 2004 and 2011. He was a member of Rugby
World Cup winning Springbok side in 2007 and played in the South African team
that won the Under-21 World Cup in 2002.

His father, Schalk (Snr), played six Tests for South Africa between 1984 and
1986.

Burger, who made his Test debut at the Rugby World Cup in 2003, said he was
humbled by the decision 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, ” said Burger, who also has 108
Super Rugby caps for the Stormers to his name.

“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. “

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