One of the outstanding players in rugby, Burger fought through life-threatening meningitis to return to the South African Springboks team in 2014. He had a cyst next to his spinal chord and went into hospital for treatment, but developed bacterial meningitis and was moved to intensive care.
He said: “There was a critical stage for nearly five days in which there was a lot of uncertainty. I was in isolation and I was seriously ill, so ill in fact that some people around me thought ‘this is it’.”
His parents were called to the hospital to say ‘goodbye’. He recovered and made a remarkable comeback, being picked for the Springboks squad to play against Australia and New Zealand in the Rugby Championship. Then he was named man of the match in the November victory over England at Twickenham, in which he scored the decisive third try.