BOWING OUT: Jacques Burger will play his last match for Namibia at RWC 2015 and is determined to help them secure an elusive victory
LONDON, 17 Sept - Jacques Burger, Namibia’s inspirational captain and one of the world’s outstanding players, announced on Thursday that this will be his last season in the game.
Burger, the one-man tackling machine who has earned a huge fan club across the world for his dynamism, commitment and courage on the field, revealed that he would retire from the international game after Rugby World Cup 2015 and would almost certainly quit his English Premiership club, Saracens, at the end of the season.
Before then, though, the 32-year-old all-action flanker insisted that he wanted to complete two great ambitions for his country. First, he cannot wait to line up against the New Zealand haka for the first time in his career, something he will achieve when he leads out his men against the All Blacks at the Olympic stadium on 24 September.
The other is to lead Namibia to their first victory in their fifth World Cup appearance, with the African side hoping to beat either Georgia or Tonga in Pool C.
“At the moment, the plans are that I’ll retire after this season. I think I’ll be retiring from all rugby but I might consider trying to get involved with defence coaching - and I’ve got the farm back home, which is always an option,” Burger said at his side’s Woodlands Park Hotel base in Cobham.
Debt to Saracens
“So, after this World Cup, I’ll be retiring from international rugby. I think it will be the right time for me to finish and then I’ll focus for the rest of the season on my contract with Saracens. The club has been great to me, really loyal to me, so I’d like to finish my playing career there.
“I suppose you never know, after this year I might feel fresh and play one more year but I doubt it. So one of my great remaining ambitions is to win a World Cup match with Namibia.
“Playing against the All Blacks too will be great, I’ve never done that. But to win a match would be very, very special. The people back home would go absolutely mental!”
Before the team left Namibia, they had a meeting with the country's president, Hage Geingob. "He said ‘go out there and give the All Blacks hell!’" Burger smiled. "A lot of people want us to beat the All Blacks, so I suppose we’re going to have to do it now”
Best Namibia squad
After their historic meeting with the world champions, Namibia, at No 20 the lowest ranked team in the tournament, will be targeting the prospect of turning over either Tonga (No 11) or Georgia (No 16) in their next two matches.
“People have been saying those games are ‘winnable’ but I look at their rankings and they're very, very good sides. But at the same time, I’ve a lot of belief in what we have,” he said.
“This is definitely the best Namibian squad I’ve been involved with, hands down. The connection between the professional and amateur players has been great and I have to believe this is our year, the year that we win a match.”
“This will be my last World Cup so I want to make sure that it ends on a high. They're such a great bunch of guys and I’m sure they will follow me.”