Burger in bullish mood

Springboks back-row giant Schalk Burger claims South Africa are "pretty confident" about their World Cup prospects. [more]

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Springboks back-row giant Schalk Burger claims South Africa are "pretty confident" about their World Cup prospects.

The 1995 world champions launch their campaign against Pool A opponents Samoa at Parc des Princes on Sunday.

And with fellow pre-tournament contenders France already behind the eight-ball in terms of their title ambitions following a shock 17-12 loss to Argentina, the Springboks can make an early statement of intent just five days before meeting world champions England.

Burger said: "We are pretty confident. We had a good run in the Tri-Nations, even though we lost to New Zealand at home, but we have had some good warm-up matches and I am looking forward to getting out there against Samoa and hopefully getting our campaign off to a good start."

For Burger, just reaching the World Cup represents a significant personal triumph.

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A serious neck injury sustained last year meant his whole career was put on the line, but since returning to the Test arena he has delivered performances of stature to match his giant frame.

He added: "I am looking forward to the World Cup. In my first World Cup, I played three matches off the bench, so I am looking forward to playing more games this time round and I am very excited to be here."

Springboks coach Jake White has named the players who accounted for Scotland in South Africa’s final warm-up game at Murrayfield last month.

And if the South African forwards can establish dominance, they will look to unleash arguably the tournament’s most exciting finisher in wing Bryan Habana.

Springboks lock Victor Matfield though, knows South Africa cannot under-estimate a Samoan side that fancies its chances of causing some damage in a group were they are installed as third favourites.

Matfield said: "They have had some great warm-up games where they have beaten top English club sides, and it is going to be a very tough battle.

"Although their lineout is not the strongest part of their game, it is not too bad.

"I think they have quite a few players who understand the logistics of a lineout, so we will have to be careful.

"For us, I don’t think there is any added pressure if people see you as favourites – it is great to have that tag – but I think there are quite a few other teams right up there in this tournament."

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