Schalk Burger wants South Africa to take their chances against New Zealand

Published: Saturday 24th October 2015 by The News Editor

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Schalk Burger accepts that South Africa must take any opportunities that come their way against World Cup semi-final opponents New Zealand on Saturday.

The two southern hemisphere giants collide at Twickenham, with South Africa one victory away from reaching a final that looked so unlikely when they lost to Japan just five weeks ago.

Standing in their way, though, are reigning world champions New Zealand, with the winners tackling Australia or Argentina back at Twickenham next weekend.

“It (World Cup) didn’t start too rosy for us, and the weeks afterwards against Samoa and Scotland were probably the toughest we’ve had as a group together,” Springboks flanker Burger said.

“There is a lot of credit there for the coaching staff and the senior players in the team also took ownership. The only way you can take ownership is if you play well.

“I think Richie McCaw (New Zealand captain) has won more Test matches than I’ve played, almost, so it’s pretty hard to compete against guys who never seem to lose.

“Again, I think they’re a great side, but within our team there is quite a lot of belief. We’ve put them under pressure in the past.

“The big thing about them is that their attack is phenomenal. They back their execution and skill-set, so they put you under more pressure than any other team in the world.

“When we have beaten them, it starts with defence, not letting them have any tempo on the ball, trying to slow them down, but if we do get opportunities, we have to use all of them.”

McCaw, meanwhile, has been around long enough to understand how big a challenge lies ahead for his players.

“It will be a brutal game, but they are the games I love,” said McCaw, who wins his 147th cap.

“Being in that environment, playing that opposition with that sort of intensity, is why you play the game. If we get the job done, I will take any scar that comes along with it.

“But we realise the challenge that the Springboks are going to pose. They are going to be desperate and we’ve got to match that. It will be brutal because of that.

“The team that can deal with that and take the moments that are on offer will be the one that succeeds.”

New Zealand arrived in the semi-finals following a 62-13 demolition of France in Cardiff last weekend, but that result is now history as far as McCaw is concerned.

“The first couple of days this week were about ensuring there was a full stop,” he added. “I think we have done that pretty well.

“Looking at the way we have trained, the guys are in a pretty good space and understand the challenge that is coming. We are under absolutely no illusions about what is going to be in front of us.”

Published: Saturday 24th October 2015 by The News Editor

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