â00Iâ00m looking forward to it, itâ00s something Iâ00ve always been dreaming about,â0 said Burger, who became one of the leading lights of the Springbok side less than a season after his try-scoring debut against Georgia in 2003.
â00Itâ00s one of those special occasions. They donâ00t arise very often and, when they do, you only get one shot at it. Hopefully, we can take that shot.â0
Despite still only being 25 years of age, Burger is now one of the most-established members of a star-studded South African outfit.
After just three substitute appearances during the ill-fated 2003 World Cup campaign, Burger achieved the unthinkable by being voted the worldâ00s best player less than a year later. In just his first season of Currie Cup and Super rugby, Burger won a further 10 caps for the Boks, making a far greater impression than even his biggest admirers could ever have imagined.
Unfortunately for the Lions, Burger continues to impress on the world stage, rarely producing below-par performances and never giving less than 100-per cent in Springbok colours.
Having experienced Under 21 World Cup glory with the Baby Boks in 2002, Burger became a world champion for the second time when the senior side lifted the William Webb Ellis trophy 18 months ago. However, that success is clearly not enough for the Port Elizabeth-born blindside who is desperate to add the scalp of the Lions to his already lengthy list of achievements.
â00The Lions is special,â0 added Burger, whose 50th international appearance could arrive in the first Test against the Lions in Durban on June 20.
â00Itâ00s something we all want to be a part of and itâ00s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Youâ00ll never get a chance to be a part of it again.
â00Itâ00s going to be a good Test series. I think itâ00s going to be completely different to what you saw at the end of the year (in the autumn internationals) and I think itâ00s going to be a tough tour.â0
Schalk Burger is an all-action flanker determined to defeat the Lions
The Boks have waited 12 years to avenge their most-recent defeat to the Lions and, although he was only 14 when Martin Johnson led the tourists to a remarkable 2-1 series victory, Burger still feels his countryâ00s pain as vividly as any other South African.
The Paarl Gimnasium schoolboy was a first-hand witness to the Lions 25-16 first-Test win back in 1997 and he is determined to help his country make amends later this year.
Unsurprisingly for a side that finished their 2008 season with wins over Scotland and Wales and a 40-point thumping of England at Twickenham, Burger believes the current generation of Springboks have what it takes to banish their decade-old demons.
â00I was at Newlands when we lost the first Test in â0097 so I was pretty well informed about that tour,â0 explained Burger.
â00I was aware of how big it was.
â00Weâ00ll have a strong squad for the Lions.
â00The next time we play together as a team will be against the Lions so weâ00ll obviously have good memories (from the November UK tour).
â00The tour was probably the closest feeling to what we had in the World Cup. It was obviously under different circumstances with different management but we were really tight and there was a special feeling around the team.â0
While Burger will be doing all he can to ensure that â00special feelingâ00 continues to grow in the South African camp, the Lions will have other ideas.
Stopping Burger from having his usual impact on Test-match rugby will go a long way to securing series victory in June and July. It might not guarantee success, but it will certainly help.