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Japan-bound Burger retains Bok ambitions

The flanker has declared himself eligible for Super Rugby and Springbok selection.

Veteran Stormers flanker Schalk Burger. Picture: Facebook.com

CAPE TOWN - Springbok and Stormers flank Schalk Burger says the offer to play rugby in Japan was something he just could not turn down.

Burger will leave the Western Province Rugby Union, where he spent 11 years, after signing a two-year contract with Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath.

The veteran loose forward join his new side in August, and will therefore not feature for Western Province in the Currie Cup.

The 31-year-old will still, however, be available for the Stormers' Super Rugby campaign, and will remain eligible for Springbok selection.

Speaking exclusively to EWN Sport , Burger says he's excited about the opportunity.

"I'm really keen. I think what's quite important is that I've still got the appetite for Super Rugby, so hopefully in the next couple of weeks we can sort out my contract so that I am still able to play Super Rugby for the Stormers."

Burger adds that he is in negotiations with Province to ensure he can still play Super Rugby.

"My contract in Japan works in a way that I'm there from August till March, and I've still got an appetite to play rugby for a Super Rugby franchise. We're negotiating with Province, but as it stands at the moment, my contract with them finishes in August, so the next big thing is Japan."

Having spent his entire rugby career in the Cape, Burger believes a change in scenery will be good for him.

"Since I've played rugby it's been the same. It's been Southern Suburbs and it's been Cape Town. So it's going to be different, with a different culture. But I'm looking forward to it."

Burger says he turned down other offers in favour of a move to Asia.

"I had offers from northern hemisphere teams, but I decided to take up the Japan option. I'll be there with Fourie du Preez, and he's been full of praise for them and has really enjoyed his time there. I can't wait to join them."

Having recovered from two years of injury problems to force his way back into Super Rugby and Springbok contention, Burger says he hopes to be playing regularly in Japan.

"The next step is for me to try and find my feet in the system, and then try to add as much value as I can. At the end of the day, all I want is the opportunity. Hopefully the opportunity arises for me to play some rugby, and I hope to grab it with both hands."

Burger says he hopes to still represent the Springboks - and to make the squad for next year's world Cup in England.

"The World Cup is in the back of everyone's minds. I want to give myself the best possible opportunity to make the World Cup next year, but in saying that I haven't been involved there [with the Boks] for a long time, so it's nice to get the opportunity."