There aren’t many players in world rugby that would keep former IRB Player of the Year Schalk Burger out of a team. Youngster Heinrich Brussow is one though, that has impressed to such a degree that Burger finds himself on the bench since returning from his suspension.
Brussow, the 23 year old Cheetahs and Springbok fetcher who has added another dimension to the World Champions armoury, looks to be here to stay. Burger will play off the bench for now, keeping him on his toes and hopefully, squeaky clean.
“Heinrich Brssow has done well in that position but it is great to have a player like Schalk – with 50 caps – amongst a very capable bench,” Bok captain John Smit said.
Brussow has had a dream start to his international career following his standout performance for the Cheetahs against the touring British & Irish Lions. That led to his selection for the Springboks, and he hasnt looked back since.
Scoring on debut, Brussow then featured prominently throughout the series, and has since gone up against two of the best fetchers in the world, George Smith and Richie McCaw. Brussow came out tops, as he did in last seasons Super 14, when his turn-over statistics were ahead of that of McCaws. He remains humble though.
Schalk Burger was my hero. He was young and therefore it was easy to identify with him. The same applies to Juan Smith, who is an outstanding player and at the same union as me. Overseas? George Smith he has the same build as me and put fetchers back on the map.
Regarding the fact that hes only a little guy, hes fully aware that in the future there might be a horses for courses approach to selection.
“When you play Australia and they try to quicken the pace, a short flank may be a good idea to compete for the loose balls and slow their ball,” he said.
“It may be a different matter against England. They are physical and seek confrontation up front. I will understand opting for size against them.”
Whether he starts or comes on off the bench, there’s no doubt he’s a great player with a tremendous future ahead of him. The Burger vs Brussow debate will continue for some time.