x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

'Namibia legend' Jacques Burger focused on first victory

The Saracens flanker will try to help Namibia end their World Cup winless streak when they take on South Africa, the world champions, in Auckland.

Jacques Burger's farm is just as rough and tumble as he is. The 14,000 acres Burger owns in remote Stampriet is covered by red dunes and crossed by the odd lion and sheep-eating crocodile.

Burger bought the land from his father-in-law, who still lives nearby, and Namibia's best rugby player and captain said the property was a dream come true.

"I've wanted to be a farmer since I was five years old," he said.

The land he eventually wants to fill with sheep and cattle is Burger's plan for the end of his rugby-playing days.

He is in no rush to retire, not when he is in the form of his life, and trying to help Namibia end their World Cup winless streak when they take on South Africa, the world champions, today in Auckland. "To win would be absolutely amazing," he said.

Fearless almost to a fault, he led all tacklers in the World Cup opening loss to Fiji, with a dozen, and rare is the game he does not hit double figures in the tackle count.

Asked how he rated Burger against all other current flankers, Johan Diergaardt, the Namibia coach, said:"He's a legend in Namibia. We appreciate him."

Burger, 28, who plies his trade in England with Saracens, used to play for South Africa's Griquas but his performances in the 2007 World Cup earned him a contract with Pretoria's Blue Bulls, which means today's match with South Africa will have added piquancy.

"When I go out on to the pitch, a switch clicks," he said. "I love the physical side of the game. It is part of my anatomy, part of the way I was brought up."