Zak Burger of the Vodacom Bulls clears the ball during the United Rugby Championship. Picture: Ashley Cahill/Action Plus/Shutterstock via BackpagePix
Zak Burger of the Vodacom Bulls clears the ball during the United Rugby Championship. Picture: Ashley Cahill/Action Plus/Shutterstock via BackpagePix

Bulls scrumhalf Zak Burger has already built up connection with Cardiff’s 4G pitch

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Oct 7, 2021

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Cape Town - The pack may not be looking forward to scrumming on a synthetic pitch, but Bulls scrumhalf Zak Burger says he is excited about playing on such a surface in Saturday’s United Rugby Championship clash against Cardiff.

The Bulls came unstuck in their two URC matches in Ireland, going down 31-3 to Leinster and 34-7 to Connacht, but they are hoping a chance of scenery to Wales and the 4G pitch at Cardiff Arms Park might change their fortunes.

Burger battled with the elements in Galway last week, where a strong wind and rain hampered his ability to wind territory in the second half. His box-kicks were also charged down on occasion by the Connacht forwards.

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“There were a few times when I was at Griquas in Kimberley where, also with an open stadium, the wind was blowing at around 40 kilometres per hour, which made it extremely difficult – especially if it comes from a particular side and corner. But it was definitely a new challenge for some of the guys,” Burger said about playing at The Sportsground.

“Connacht also played into the wind really well, as they obviously experienced that before. They did very well against the wind in the first half, but in the second, they used the wind to great effect and put us under tremendous pressure.

“I don’t know how the weather will be this week in Cardiff. But the first half against Connacht, we definitely did not put enough points on the board with such a wind. In the second half, when we played against the wind, they put us under enormous pressure, especially by forcing us into a certain corner, which made it difficult to get out of there.

“I thought they were tactically very good, and we should most definitely have made better use of our chances in the first half and put more points on the board.”

The 23-year-old halfback used his speed to great effect on the harder South African pitches in the Currie Cup, and the Bulls will hope that the synthetic grass at Cardiff Arms Park (8.35pm SA time kickoff) will assist Burger and flyhalf Johan Goosen to spark the backline on attack.

“We trained on the synthetic grass today, and me personally as a scrumhalf, I enjoyed it a lot actually, as I feel I run much lighter on the field. So, for me, it’s much nicer. I don’t know what impact it will have on the scrums and mauls, but for me, it’s good to play on such a pitch and we will train on there a few more times. It’s also something different, but I personally like the synthetic pitch,” Burger said.

“I think we are not far off – we get our 22-metre entries in the games, but the difference between this tournament and the Currie Cup is that you get 10 chances, and if you take five of them, you score five tries.

“But in this competition, you get four chances and you have to take all four of them. So, the margin for error is not that big, and you have to take your chances when you are given a chance.

“I am not sure what the weather will be on Saturday, but it depends on the first kickoff, how the match flows. Once you’re on the field, you get a feel for where the space is – is the space behind them, around them or through them?

“We will get a feeling on the field about how we want to play, but we will certainly play good rugby and attack the space, wherever they give us the space.”

@ashfakmohamed

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