Investec Stormers flanker Schalk Burger was named 2004 International Player of the Year at the annual IRB International Rugby Awards in London on Sunday evening.
Burger was one of five nominees for the award. Others were his fellow Bok and Stormer, centre Marius Joubert, French flanker Serge Betsen, Irish centre Gordon D’Arcy, and Wallaby centre Matt Giteau.
The IRB Award is the third international accolade to come Burger’s way in recent days. Earlier this week he walked away with two of the awards at the annual International Rugby Players’ Association awards ceremony – the Investec International Players’ Player of the Year award and the Newcomer of the Year award.
Just over a year ago, Schalk Burger was a surprise inclusion in the Springbok squad that traveled to the Rugby World Cup in Australia. He scored a try in his debut against Georgia and it was only the fact that he was principally seen as back-up for captain Corne Krige that he did not win a starting place.
Nonetheless, South African rugby was given a glimpse of his potential and this season Schalk has delivered in full on that promise.
Burger was the outstanding newcomer of the Vodacom Rugby Super 12 and Tri-Nations competitions, producing whirlwind performances in both competitions that had NZ and Australian coaches install him alongside Richie McCaw and George Smith as one of the game’s outstanding “fetchers”.
Burger continued his solid form into the latter stages of the 2004 Absa Currie Cup and ended the domestic season being crowned as the ABSA SA Rugby Player of the Year for 2004.