Namibia captain Jacques Burger to put battered body on line against New Zealand
Namibia captain Jacques Burger will put his battered body through one last World Cup knowing that the majority of players participating in England 2015 will be carrying some form of injury.
The fearless Saracens flanker will face reigning champions New Zealand at the Olympic Stadium scarred by an exhaustive list of surgeries including six operations to his right knee, two to his shoulders and two to his cheekbones.
Further injuries includes nerve damage to his neck, two popped ribs, a broken hand, repeated finger and ankle ligament damage and a torn thigh muscle.
Pain is a constant companion but Burger, who was told he would never play again due to a problem affecting his kneecap, insists the discomfort will dissolve when his third World Cup begins on Thursday.
"I've not played many games over the last couple of years injury-free," FLEXISEQ Sport ambassador Burger told Press Association Sport.
"Most of the players at the World Cup will carry some sort of niggle, some will be more serious than others.
"Back rows take a bit of a beating and the type of game I play is really hard on the body. I have a lot or wear and tear on my joints. There's a bone deformation and cartilage damage.
"The pain is the symptom I want to get away from and I want to be as pain free as possible. I'm in lots of pain and I sound like an old man sometimes when I complain to my wife about injuries!
"But over the last couple of years I've done really well. Two years ago I was told I wouldn't be able to play again or even run.
"On Sunday mornings sometimes you doubt yourself and ask 'why am I doing this?'
"But it's 100 per cent worth it. I'm in very good shape right now and it's a blessing to be at a World Cup for a third time.
"I'm married so my wife can look after me anyway, so it won't be a problem once it's over!"
Namibia are 200/1 underdogs to topple New Zealand but the 32-year-old Burger insists the Africans will search outside the scoreline when reflecting on their performance.
"Coming towards the end of my career, this will be an incredible experience. There will be small victories throughout the match," he said.
"We might not beat them but we have to look past the score, which might be big, and put some good things together, maybe defend well for periods and score some points.
"It's the All Blacks and they make very good teams look stupid. All we can do is give it our best."
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw has been named on the bench and Burger hopes he will be brought on at some stage in the second game of the All Blacks' World Cup defence.
"Richie is an incredible player. I have so much respect for him and he's partly the reason I want to play in this match," Burger said.
"It's not a personal thing, more of an honour. I won't give him too much respect on Thursday though!"
:: Jacques Burger looks after his joints by using FLEXISEQ Sport - the drug-free, pain relieving gel used to ease joint and muscle stiffness. Visit sports.flexiseq.com to be #battleready