At 35, Schalk Burger has seen it all in the rugby world, and is now ready to come back home.
The Springbok World Cup champion announced on Wednesday that he will be leaving English club Saracens at the end of the 2018/19 season.
Burger, who earned 86 Bok Test caps, expressed his thanks to the club, previously backed by Johann Rupert, for “taking me and my family in” after he said goodbye to the Stormers in 2016.
“It’s a bit of a funny one really, because I don’t think while you are playing, you really have time to reflect on it,” Burger said in a video posted by Saracens on their social media channels on Wednesday.
“So, I haven’t really reached that stage yet. You’re still in the middle of a season, and you’ve obviously made a decision to move on from Saracens.
“What I’m going to do post-Saracens is still a little bit unclear. I’ve had a great time over here, and obviously if you look back at the career, it’s been quite a long one – but quite an enjoyable one.
“So, I’m going to leave Saracens a happy man.”
Burger has previously played for Suntory Sungoliaths in Japan, so a return to the Far East for one last hurrah would not be out of the realm, as it would be surprise if he had to go back to the Stormers in Super Rugby.
He said that his time off the field at Saracens – with his wife Michele and sons Schalk Junior and Nicol – was as precious as being on the pitch.
“One of the things you look for when you move abroad is something that you can relate to, that you can understand. It’s not all results-based – it’s about you and your family moving across,” Burger said.
📰| Saracens can confirm Schalk Burger will leave the club at the end of the season.#ThankyouSchalla ⚫🔴— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) February 27, 2019
“One of the biggest things is for them to settle in and be happy, and this club caters for the wives, the partners and for the rugby players better than everyone else.
“I obviously walked into a great side, a settled side. But most of all, it is the culture that stands out – the way we go about enjoying rugby, enjoying spending time together, the trips I’ve had with the team.
“Obviously we’ve won a couple of trophies since I’ve been here, so a lot of great memories.
“But really, it is a pleasure to come in every day, especially towards the end of the career, as I was based in Cape Town, probably spoiled – I played there my whole career.
“To come over here in England to a club that’s so well catered for, it’s unbelievable.
“Coming from Super Rugby, where the game moves a little differently, you come across to the UK and learn and try to improve, and still prove that you can do it, even if you are a little bit more experienced.
“The thing I’m looking most forward to is moving back to Cape Town.”@ashfakmohamed