Burger wary of presence of Pocock
October 5, 2011
Schalk Burger knows that the Springboks are in for a real battle on Sunday © Getty Images
South Africa star Schalk Burger is well aware of the threat posed by fit-again Australian flanker David Pocock to his side's hopes of retaining the Rugby World Cup.
Pocock is widely regarded as one of the finest opensides in the game and it is no coincidence that the Western Force ace was unavailable for the Wallabies' shock defeat by Ireland in the pool stages through injury.
However, Pocock made his return to action in last weekend's victory over the United States and is expected don the No.7 jersey once again for this weekend's eagerly-awaited quarter-final clash with the Springboks in Wellington.
"David is a fantastic player, and getting him back is a massive boost (for Australia)," Springboks blindside Burger said.
"The breakdown is always a tough area, and if you dominate you will usually go well in the game. David is one of the best openside flankers in world rugby at the moment, so if he gets opportunities he will definitely turn it over.
"The way the breakdown is interpreted at the moment it is probably a 70-30 split for the attacking side, so I think there is a good balance at this World Cup. Hopefully, on Sunday, we can get a good balance between attack and defence for both sides."
The Springboks failed to sparkle in the pool stages, only just scraping past both Wales and Samoa, while their victories over Fiji and Namibia were as meritless as they were easy. However, Burger is reasonably pleased with the champions' progress to date. Indeed, his primary concern ahead of their southern hemisphere showdown with the Wallabies is the Wellington weather.
"I don't think we are at a stage of the competition where we are going to change much," he said. "It looks like the weather is going to be all right. If we were playing today (in fierce wind and rain), I suppose our tactics would have been quite different.
"There is a fair bit of wind around in Wellington, and territory will be very important, so whichever way you find fit to get territory advantage you will use. But the weather looks good at the moment, and hopefully it stays that way, both sides can play some enterprising rugby and it will be a great spectacle."
Burger is also expecting the game to be tight. Indeed, he suspects that the game will still be in the balance going into the final seconds and feels that the side that holds its nerve best will prevail.
"It helps being there and having experienced it before," he said. "But at the end of the day, your caps are not going to win you a rugby match. You have got to go out there and play to the best of your capabilities.
"Hopefully, when it comes down to the last seconds of the game we are five metres from the Wallabies try-line and not vice versa. When it gets tight like that, you call on individuals to make the right decisions and not make mistakes.
"It's about accuracy. When the game gets tight, it is about individual errors or individual decisions, and hopefully we make the right ones."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
He teed up Obolensky's try, fought in Burma and played cricket for Warwickshire - we Rewind to look at the story of Peter Cranmer
With the World Cup just a year away, Tom Hamilton picks out five matches to ensure you have tickets for
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup