BIONIC BURGER; Namibia's Captain Has Had So Many Ops, He Carries the Plates and Screws in His Kit Bag! RUGBY WORLD CUP

Daily Mail (London), September 24, 2015 | Go to article overview

BIONIC BURGER; Namibia's Captain Has Had So Many Ops, He Carries the Plates and Screws in His Kit Bag! RUGBY WORLD CUP


Byline: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW by Nik Simon

IF England or South Africa had come calling, would Jacques Burger have done things differently? 'You have to follow your heart,' says the Namibia captain, who could have worn the Red Rose or Springbok jersey. 'My heart told me to represent my family, my childhood and my people.' Aside from his inclusion in the 2011 team of the tournament, Burger's World Cup record does not make pretty reading: eight games, eight defeats, 74 points scored, 478 points conceded.

He opted not to chase trophies with the power nations, instead chasing a single victory with the African minnows.

This tournament is Burger's final chance to pick up that elusive win, with his kamikaze approach to tackling forcing him to retire at the end of the season aged just 32 as his bionic body finally gives up.

Burger has had 60 injuries in the last two years and many of them were highlighted with body paint (see right) as the Saracens wrecking ball posed in front of the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

'I've had six surgeries on my right knee, two on my right shoulder, two on my cheekbones and a broken hand,' says Burger.

'I've had all the screws and plates taken out now, but I carry them with me in my kit bag as a reminder. People said I wouldn't even make it to this World Cup, but I've proved them wrong.

'There are times when I worry about the future. I have two small kids and I would like to be actively involved in their lives. But when I play I forget about safety and the future, which is probably why I'm in this situation. I would play for 50 more years if I could, but I can't.' The back-row regrets not looking after his joints, but he does not regret the path he has chosen ignoring the increasingly common practice of representing major nations through the three-year residency rule.

'When I made my debut for Namibia in 2004, I knew the repercussions,' says Burger. 'I think about it sometimes, because it frustrates me that we have never performed well, but anything else just wouldn't feel right. …

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