Burger targets March return
January 1, 2013
Jacques Burger hopes to be back in action before the end of the season © Getty Images
Saracens flanker Jacques Burger is targeting a return to action in March after undergoing an operation to realign his tibia.
The Namibian was initially warned not to undergo the surgery, but eventually he travelled to South Africa where he found a surgeon who was willing to perform the necessary procedure. The problem was a result of stress on the joint and though he had rested for six weeks in early 2011, on his return he had to battle through the pain barrier to be named one of the five best players of last year's World Cup, just a few months after being voted Saracens player of the year when they won the Premiership title.
He had a clean-up operation in January 2012, but it quickly became clear that he would need something more permanent.
"Like most rugby players I'm pretty stupid," Burger told The Daily Telegraph. "I will go through almost anything just to get the satisfaction of playing. Looking back I probably shouldn't have played in the World Cup but it was always going to be huge and how often do you get the opportunity to captain your country at an event like that? Despite all the pain and grief since I am glad I went to New Zealand with Namibia. I got the job done for 80 minutes in every game, just.
"In those big games you can live with the pain because after about 10 minutes everything else was hurting so it was just part of the picture. But on a day-to-day basis there was no way I could continue. I still get days when I curse - but then you go to work in the gym and feel better about life and on other days it starts to feel good again. When you can't play it feels like your hobby or favourite toy has been taken away. I love this game and I will play again."
Burger is well aware that he must manage his comeback well, though Saracens are not rushing a back a player whom Brendan Venter brought to the club in 2009.
"Mentally it has been the toughest year of my life and I think I have been borderline depressed some of the time," he admitted. "At first I had to keep myself away from the club on match day, just being there was too painful and hard. It reminds you every single second of the day what you are missing and that you are going to be out for a very long time.
"I miss it so much; waking up on match day full of nerves and energy and that tight feeling in your stomach. Of course I want the boys to keep winning all the time but it dents your confidence a little bit when they keep winning without you. No matter how long it takes I will get back playing and when I do it will be the sweetest victory of my life."
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