Cape Town - South African Rugby Union (SARU) president Oregan Hoskins has paid tribute to Springbok flank Schalk Burger who on Wednesday won the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award in Shanghai, China.
Burger, who turned 32 on Monday, has been playing Test rugby for almost 12 years.
He has represented South Africa 75 times and was a Rugby World Cup winner in 2007.
However, serious injury and a life-threatening illness meant Burger was out of action for 18 months before making his comeback to the playing field late in 2013.
After a string of impressive performances for the Stormers in Super Rugby, Burger was selected for the Springboks again in 2014 and capped a fine season with the Man of the Match award in the Test victory over England at Twickenham last November.
"What Schalk has gone through in the last couple of years and what he has achieved makes it one of the most inspirational sporting stories in our recent history," said Hoskins.
"He has been an icon of inspiration and the fact that he always seems to have a smile on his face, makes it even more joyous to watch Schalk in action.
"On behalf of everyone in South African rugby, I would like to congratulate him on this amazing achievement but knowing Schalk, I know he will be itching to get back to Perth where the Stormers are playing on Saturday."
Burger is a two-time SA Rugby Player of the Year winner (2004 and 2011) and was also the World Rugby Player of the Year in 2004. He attended the glittering ceremony in Shanghai on Wednesday and will return to Perth in time for the Stormers’ match against the Force on Saturday.
The other nominees in the category for the World Comeback of the Year Award were Italian soccer player Francesco Acerbi, Diego Milito (Argentina, soccer), Jo Pavey (UK, athletics), Pierre Vaultnier (France, snowboarding) and Oliver Wilson (UK, golf).