Rugby Club: Jacques Burger believes Saracens are ready to win the double

Last Updated: 15/05/14 7:22pm

Jacques Burger has a reputation for his big hitting

Jacques Burger has built a reputation as one of the most fearless players in European rugby - so it was no surprise when he refused to shy away from the growing excitement surrounding Saracens' chances of achieving a remarkable double this season.

The flanker from Namibia has played a crucial role in helping Saracens to the brink of a domestic and European double. Sarries face Harlequins in the Premiership play-offs this weekend before taking on Jonny Wilkinson's Toulon in the European Cup final next weekend.

"If you don't have a bad nose then surely you are doing it wrong."

Jacques Burger

Burger's bone-crushing tackles and ferocious work-rate will be critical to Saracens' chances of emulating Leicester and Wasps in winning both competitions in the same year. Despite three huge matches standing in their way, Burger was typically bullish about the challenge ahead.

"I felt during the game against Clermont there was a buzz," he told the Rugby Club." Guys were just confident and everybody was ready. Everybody felt like it was our time.

"A lot of people don't want to talk about the double because it is still a while away and people are afraid that they might curse it if they talk about it. But it is something that you have to be excited about and I don't see why we can't do it."

That Burger has played such a big role in taking Saracens to the latter stages of both competitions is remarkable in itself. The 30-year-old flanker was almost forced to quit the game after suffering a serious knee injury that required surgery and a protracted lay-off.

Burger was even forced to travel to South Africa for the operation on his knee with surgeons in the UK advising against the procedure to prolong his career.

Battered

"It has been really hard," Burger said. "There were times when I said to Lehanie [his wife], 'listen maybe we should go home because it does not feel like it is getting better'. Then you just crack on and open your eyes and you are playing in a Heineken Cup semi-final and it is all forgotten."

Burger's knee is by no means the only part of his body that has been subjected to the severe punishment that is an inevitable consequence of his uncompromising approach to the game. His broken nose, in particular, has come to embody his physical fearlessness.

"My nose is pretty battered up but you can't play rugby without having a bad nose really. If you don't have a bad nose then surely you are doing it wrong," he said.

"I know what my job is in the team. I know what I am there to do and it is ugly. It is trying to smash people and trying to be as physical as possible. I am obviously not trying to injure guys but I am trying to impose myself on the other team."

Hit list

Next on his hit list after the Premiership semi-final will be Toulon's Wilkinson, who has his own reputation for never shirking a tackle or flinching in the face of confrontation.

Asked if Saracens would target Wilkinson in the pursuit of European glory next weekend, Burger said: "It will definitely be something that we talk about because he has built that reputation.

"He is well respected around the world for a reason; he is a really good rugby player. He makes great decisions, he doesn't make a lot of mistakes and what we have to do is to force him into a lot of mistakes. I don't think that I have played against him so it is great to play against the best players in the world."