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Burger urges Boks to close ranks

2015-09-21 08:19
Schalk Burger (Gallo Images)

Birmingham - South Africa great Schalk Burger called on the two-time champions to "write off" their stunning Rugby World Cup defeat by Japan despite calls for the coach Heyneke Meyer to be fired.

"We need to write it off and move forward as quickly as possible," Burger said as the South Africans moved base to prepare for their next game against Samoa on Saturday.

Burger said the Springboks have to quickly rebound. But there is painful soul-searching in their home country.

South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper predicted "Bok heads to roll" because of the defeat. Even the main COSATU union said Meyer should go because he relied too much on white players.

The team was expected to close ranks however for the rest of the World Cup.

Veteran loose forward Burger was in the back-row for the 34-32 defeat to Japan in Brighton, the biggest upset in World Cup history.

South Africa are in big trouble in Pool B if they do not beat Samoa in Birmingham on Saturday.

Burger said South Africa had to analyse and fix what went wrong so the team can compete against Samoa.

"The first thing to understand is why we lost, why Japan put us under so much pressure," the 32-year-old Burger said.

"As soon as we understand what the weaknesses are that were exposed in that game, we can move forward. That must happen fast.

"Tomorrow we need to put the game behind us and focus on Samoa."

Burger said senior players - which includes several World Cup-winners - needed to help turn things around.

"I know our self-confidence is not where it should be, but it is up to us as a senior group and a coaching team to get the guys ready to go out and play," explained Burger, a member of the South Africa side that beat England in the 2007 World Cup final in Paris.

"We can't just play within our means against Samoa and think we can win," the 80-times capped Burger said.

"We have to go out there and take the game from them. It won't be easy. What is quite difficult for us is not to go back into our shells, but rather take this competition by the scruff of its neck and go out and win this match."

Burger, who plays club rugby for Japanese side Suntory Sungoliath, praised Japan's effort as "phenomenal" and a major move forward for Japanese rugby union and the global game.

"I've got six team-mates that were on the field and obviously after the match we had a group chat with those who can understand English, and they're over the moon," Burger said.

"For the last six months they were targeting us and they got it right. Credit to (coach) Eddie Jones, it was a phenomenal performance.

"We were on the receiving end and we will watch this game on the highlights reel for years to come, but for rugby as a whole and for Japan - hosting the next World Cup - it's the best thing that could have happened."

However, Burger warned that tough tests still awaited the Brave Blossoms at this World Cup.

"For Japan the next challenge is Scotland on Wednesday."

Samoa opened their World Cup campaign with a 25-16 win over the United States in Brighton on Sunday.

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