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Burger relishing one last battle with McCaw

2015-10-23 17:00
Schalk Burger (Gallo)

London - When Schalk Burger meets Richie McCaw at the bottom of a ruck in Saturday's Rugby World Cup semi-final it will be a poignant moment in the heat of battle - two of world rugby's supreme flanks fighting furiously for possession one last time.

With New Zealand captain McCaw expected to retire after the tournament, the South African hopes to seize the chance to secure future bragging rights over a player he said has won more test matches than he has played.


The sense of respect and admiration in that comment is that Burger has represented South Africa 84 times while McCaw will win his 147th cap on Sunday and will be seeking his 130th victory.

To compare his record, Burger said, would be like a golfer comparing himself to Tiger Woods. "It's pretty tough", the 32-year-old dynamic ball carrier said.

The pair are friends - Burger will try and chat on the field, although he admits "that's pretty difficult to do with Richie". But they will share a beer whatever the outcome and reminisce about "days gone by"

"We have become good mates, played against each other since 2003, and there have been a fair few contests and unfortunately I have been on the losing side of most of them. Let's hope I get some bragging rights tomorrow as it will be the last time we play against each other," said Burger, who has lost 10 and won five of his tests against the All Blacks.

"Obviously on the field we are equals. We play a bit of a different style. We both have a massive work rate so we find each other at the bottom of the rucks, tackling or carrying the ball a hell of a lot."

Carrying the ball is something Burger has done more than any other player in this tournament - a total of 80, which is 20 more than the next player (Michael Leitch of Japan).

Burger's tigerish play is just one element the Springboks will need if they are to upset the world champions who clicked into ominous form with their quarter-final drubbing of France.

For Burger, the key to containing a potent All Blacks backline starts with stopping Julian Savea, the leading try-scorer in the tournament with eight.

"I hope he never runs at me - it would be mildly terrifying to say the least," he joked.

"The big thing about them is their attack is phenomenal. They back their execution and skillset so they put you under more pressure than any other team in the world.

"When we've beaten them (only twice in the last 12 meetings) it starts with defence, not letting them have any tempo on the ball, trying to slow them down but then we create a lot of opportunities."

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