Schalk Burger is negotiating with the Stormers for a contract extension that would keep him in Cape Town until after the 2015 World Cup.
The veteran Springbok flank’s current contract with the Cape franchise expires at the end of the year, and although he admitted that the prospect of earning big money overseas is tempting, he would like to put that on hold until the end of 2015.
The 30-year-old has been out of the game for the best part of two years due to injury and health issues, and whilst he is taking his comeback one step at a time his ultimate ambition is to play Test rugby again.
He told Rugby365: “I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to get back into that Springbok fold, at the end of the day that is where you want to be – that is the big toffee.
“But at the moment I am not thinking about it, I am focusing mostly on myself and just trying to get back into some decent form so I can add massive value to the Stormers,” he added.
Burger said that a move overseas is something he would ideally like to consider after 2015, which indicates that he would like to give himself a chance to play in a fourth World Cup next year.
“The older you get the more you start thinking about stuff like that [playing abroad]. We will wait and see, I am off the SA rugby payroll as well so the difference between what I am earning and what I could earn is getting bigger and bigger.
“But for the moment and time being I am here and actually busy negotiating to stay another year so lets hope I can stay on, it will be nice,” he revealed.
However, that is all a long way off and for now Burger’s focus is on building his form and confidence to put himself in a position to challenge for a spot in the national side again.
His performance for the Barbarians against Fiji at the end of last year gave him plenty of heart, and he believes he built on that in the pre-season outing against the Bulls last week.
“Last week in Polokwane I got through another 80 minutes and I think my performance was a step up from the Barbarians game which was obviously good.
“I think my physicality and match sharpness is coming back, so it was really nice getting through 80 minutes again and if I keep on improving I think somewhere during the season I will get into some decent form.
“The body is feeling good and the mind has always been keen so lets hope that the body can keep up. Every time I play now I play better which is good for my confidence.,” he said.
Burger explained that although his game has evolved over the years, with a major shift coming in 2006 when he suffered a serious neck injury, his abrasive style will always define him no matter which side of the scrum he is playing on.
“I made a conscious decision after 2006 when I had the big neck injury. I obviously had some skills before then but never showed it, so I tried to use them.
“Obviously the older you get you get into more of a leadership role and I brought some distribution into my game. Making contact 100 times a game started to hurt at one stage, so I am trying to improve those skills still and I have been in a leadership role for a long time which does effect the way you play.
“Coming back I am always going to be compared to before and after the 18-month lay-off, but in saying that I have always played rugby in a similar way and I think it is reasonably confrontational so I don’t think I will ever lose that part of the game,” he said.
Victor Matfield is also making a comeback this year after a similar amount of time on the sidelines, and whilst Burger has not been as forthright about his World Cup ambitions he would be tough to overlook if he manages to hit his straps this season.
By Michael de Vries