A chat with a Toulon star

Written by Benedict Chanakira (bchanakira2)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 17 Jun 2014 at 13:11
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

I must admit, it has been hectic getting hold of Mr Craig Bruce Burden. He had a Heineken Cup final, Top 14 final and a match against his country! However Craig made time! In a massive week in his career!

Benedict: Hi Craig, How are you?

Craig: I am very well thanks, firstly I must apologies for the late reply and delays. It’s been a unbelievably busy past few weeks. But I’m back in Durban now for a holiday, and loving the break.

B: How is your French coming along?

C: My French is coming along slowly but surely. We have a compulsory lesson every week. There are five players in my class Bakkies, Dannie, Juan Smith , Ali Williams and myself. We not the sharpest group but we trying. It’s a very difficult language to learn, I can understand it to a fair degree but not well enough to hold a decent conversation yet. I know enough to formally greet and introduce myself as well as ask for any help I may need.

B: Describe France in three words?

C: Passionate, scenic, tranquil.

B: From a medical joker to a European Champion. How is it that fairy tale?

C: It has been an unbelievable journey for me this season. A fantastic experience, I couldn’t have asked for more. I came into a side with players decorated with honours of the highest and I have been very fortunate to have become a member of this successful team.

B: Established as one of the most athletic hookers in the world. Happy to have left the fairies (backline) ?

C: Haha not sure I would classify Bastareaud as a fairy. At 125 kg he’s a fair bit heavier than a fairy. I’m really happy I made the switch and have enjoyed the challenge that lay ahead. It was tough and I had to do a hell of a lot of work on the side to try make my transition a success but I’m pleased with where I ended up given the amount of work if put in.

B: Is it true you were the fastest and strongest Sharks player in the squad? Even stronger than Beast?

C: (Chuckles) Lwazi And Hoff(Ryan Kankowski) would definitely challenge my answer, I would like to think I was right up there over 10m, anything further Hoff and Lwazi would clean me up. On a normal day in the gym I’d probably push more weight than Beast however I do know that if you had to flick Beast’s switch get him fired up, there is no weight close to heavy enough for him in the gym.

B: What is Jonny Wilkinson like?

C: Jonny Wilkinson is without a doubt the most professional athlete I have ever met. He is a true role model and a prime example of how any rugby player wanting to achieve top honors should train. He is the best in the business and yet still trains the longest and hardest out of anyone in the Toulon squad. He is treated like royalty in Toulon and yet he is probably the most humble guy I have ever met.

B: Your highlight playing in the black and white jersey?

C: Every single game was special for me, I literally got goosebumps every time I pulled on the shark jerseys and ran out in front of the crowd.

B: If you could go back into the past and change one thing in your career, what would it be?

C: Nothing, you learn front your mistakes and celebrate your success.

B: How did it feel being in the Springbok camp in 2012?

C: It was a fantastic experience, every South African rugby player’s dream is to one day represent their country so to be even called up to be a part of the squad was an absolute honor.

B: You put a massive hit on Schalk Brits not once, but twice. Was that your biggest?

C: Haha yes was one of my biggest. Had a beer and a chat with him after the game. Great guy

B: Who has influenced your career the most?

C: I would have to say my family they have been there for me throughout my career and always supporting me.

B: Top 14, Super Rugby or Heineken Cup?

C: They are all completely different and unique in their own ways. Heineken Cup and Super Rugby in my mind are both played at a much faster pace and intensity in comparison to the Top 14 which is a lot slower with more emphasis put on the break downs and scrums. Yet in terms of support I’ve never played in front of such a big crowd as we did for the Top 14 final which was just over 82 000.

B: Can we get a World XV and coach from you?

C: To be honest I would literally rename the Toulon team that I’ve been playing for. The way they have accepted and welcomed me into their team has been unbelievable. I would take each one of them to war with me, they have each earned my utmost respect on the field. I will however say that I would definitely want to include Beast, Bismark and Eben into my side. Coach I would select Nick Mallet.

B: A message to the Sharks faithful and your fans.

C: I would definitely like to thank all the Sharks supporters for the amazing years I’ve had playing in front of them. Thy really are a unbelievably passionate bunch and have left me with unforgettable memories to take away from the shark tank. Keep the support.

B: Thanks Champ!
C: Cool bud!


  • He should be with the Boks! His basic skills as a hooker have improved enormously and his X-Factor makes him a must-have for the World Cup next year!!

  • Comment 1, posted at 17.06.14 13:17:48 by ChrisS Reply
    ChrisSCurrie Cup player
  • @ChrisS (Comment 1) : Agreed. Imagine Craig at full speed with the NZ team trying to catch him. :lol:

  • Comment 2, posted at 17.06.14 13:19:44 by markm Reply

    markmVodacom Cup player
  • I have always been a fan of Mr. Burden, and still believe that with the right coach and enough playing time, he could be right up there with the best. Awesome player!

  • Comment 3, posted at 17.06.14 13:20:50 by Another Nick Reply

    Another NickSuper Rugby player
  • Another good one Benedict, thanks.

    Very chuffed for Craig, playing with the big boys.

    Also glad to read what type of person Wilkinson is – confirms what I thought he would be like.

  • Comment 4, posted at 17.06.14 13:48:53 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply

    Salmonoid the SubtleAssistant coach
  • @markm (Comment 2) : @Another Nick (Comment 3) : He’s already amongst the best in the world thanks to his increased playing time at Toulon. He could make the test team of any of the top countries in the world…All Blacks, Oz, England etc.

    I hope that Heyneke wakes up and sees what a talent he is wasting!

  • Comment 5, posted at 17.06.14 14:17:09 by ChrisS Reply
    ChrisSCurrie Cup player
  • @ChrisS (Comment 5) : to be completely, completely fair to Heyneke…. the Sharks spent 5 years or more wasting Burden before he even got a chance to do so.

  • Comment 6, posted at 17.06.14 14:18:25 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @robdylan (Comment 6) :
    At the Sharks Burden was third in line behind John Smit and Bismark,and not even he believed that he was beter than either of them.
    In Meyer’s eyes he is not only behind Bismark and Straus, but Chilliboy, Brits and Callie Visagie,I bet he’d pick, Liebenberg and Ntubeni ahead of him as well.

  • Comment 7, posted at 17.06.14 14:24:09 by The hound Reply

    The houndTeam captain
  • @The hound (Comment 7) : fair enough.

    How are you feeling after last night? Or haven’t you guys got to episode 10 yet?

  • Comment 8, posted at 17.06.14 14:33:16 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @The hound (Comment 7) : Dick Muir retreaded him as a hooker, so he should have managed him from then.I have always rated Craig as one of the better & more athletic hookers. I watched a game where he came on as a flank & he completely outplayed his opposite number!
    @ChrisS (Comment 5) : HM has BB tinted glasses or contact lenses in, so whether or not Craig is good, his blood is not blue enough. How Visagie came into the reckoning, I don’t know. Kyle is way better than him.I have never rated Chilliboy either.What has happened to Maku? :?: Fallen out of favour?@The hound (Comment 7) : Don’t grow too attached to any of the GOT characters – you never know how long they will last? :mrgreen: :twisted:

  • Comment 9, posted at 17.06.14 14:57:03 by markm Reply

    markmVodacom Cup player
  • I died last night beaten to death by a ”big bitch”,man I love that series.
    Finest telavision ever produced.

  • Comment 10, posted at 17.06.14 14:57:24 by The hound Reply

    The houndTeam captain
  • @ChrisS (Comment 5) : Agreed, the more exposure he gets, the better for him. In the near future we might see him and Kockott run out for France.. imagine! @robdylan (Comment 6) : True.. even now, suppose he does come back to the Sharks, where will he slot in with Bismark, Coops and Hadebe there? HM doesn’t rate him, so best he stays in France, makes bags full of money and play with the best in the world.

  • Comment 11, posted at 17.06.14 14:58:22 by Another Nick Reply

    Another NickSuper Rugby player
  • @markm (Comment 9) :
    I still can’t work out why they retreaded,Craig at all imagine what a great centre he would be,in the Ma Nonu,Tanna Umanga mould ,but stronger and quicker,

  • Comment 12, posted at 17.06.14 15:02:29 by The hound Reply

    The houndTeam captain
  • Craig spoke to me about it a few years back. Reckoned he was lacking in top end to make it as an outside back.

    “rather be a fast hooker than a slow wing” he reckoned.

  • Comment 13, posted at 17.06.14 15:08:47 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @robdylan (Comment 6) : To be fair he did get his chance the year Bismarck was injured, and did not really take it. Always a very explosive player, but especially his line out work let him down badly at times. It does look like he has improved that a lot nowadays.

  • Comment 14, posted at 17.06.14 15:19:49 by Bokhoring Reply

    BokhoringTeam captain
  • @robdylan (Comment 13) : There is a certain amount of irony in the fact that Dick Muir, a prince of centres, was responsible for turning what could have been an amazing centre into an also ran hooker

  • Comment 15, posted at 17.06.14 15:23:14 by The hound Reply

    The houndTeam captain
  • @The hound (Comment 10) : irritates me that we have to wait another year for the next series… and God knows how long for another book

  • Comment 16, posted at 17.06.14 15:25:20 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @robdylan (Comment 16) : I think the book will be out soon,I have already read two chapters from it,and I understand that the next series is already in the can.
    But hey they are going to stretch it out as far as they can it has now become an industry,employing thousands.

  • Comment 17, posted at 17.06.14 15:29:08 by The hound Reply

    The houndTeam captain
  • @The hound (Comment 17) : Sorry to butt in, but are you talking about Book 6 – The Winds of Winter?

  • Comment 18, posted at 17.06.14 15:48:01 by Bokhoring Reply

    BokhoringTeam captain
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 18) : Yup the second to last book there is one after it. George RR has released two chapters not in sequence.,and I am presuming that they will release the book,between the two T.V series.

  • Comment 19, posted at 17.06.14 16:21:50 by The hound Reply

    The houndTeam captain
  • @The hound (Comment 19) : Thanks

  • Comment 20, posted at 17.06.14 16:49:23 by Bokhoring Reply

    BokhoringTeam captain
  • @robdylan (Comment 6) : yes it pissed me off that they could not fix his problems at the and in six months the Toulon people seemed to have his problems sorted.

  • Comment 21, posted at 17.06.14 17:54:34 by JD Reply
    Competition Winner Author
    JDAssistant coach
  • @Another Nick (Comment 11) : don’t think he can play for France as he played for the Bokke. Kockott on the other hand will play for France next year.

  • Comment 22, posted at 17.06.14 17:57:28 by JD Reply
    Competition Winner Author
    JDAssistant coach
  • @The hound (Comment 15) : to be fair when Craig was still playing centre there was some seriously talented centres in SA.

  • Comment 23, posted at 17.06.14 17:59:38 by JD Reply
    Competition Winner Author
    JDAssistant coach
  • @JD (Comment 22) : Craig only toured with the Boks and was never capped, he is still available. Once he has gotten past the 3 year residency requirement he will be available to France, just like Rory.

  • Comment 24, posted at 17.06.14 18:22:26 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    Dancing BearTeam captain
  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 24) : ja you’re correct. Was sure he did manage some game time on the tour but I was wrong. Age however is not in his favour as by then he’ll be 31.

  • Comment 25, posted at 17.06.14 18:45:08 by JD Reply
    Competition Winner Author
    JDAssistant coach
  • @JD (Comment 25) : agreed, however, front row players do tend to reach their peak later in their careers. He could still play for France through the 2019 RWC, I believe he would be 35.

  • Comment 26, posted at 17.06.14 19:13:19 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
    Dancing BearTeam captain
  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 26) : yes it true, just a pity he would not make next year’s World cup as I do think he deserves to play international rugby.

  • Comment 27, posted at 17.06.14 21:46:24 by JD Reply
    Competition Winner Author
    JDAssistant coach
  • @JD (Comment 21) : This is really worrying about the SA coaching setup. We see players struggling for years with the same problems, they leave for Europe and suddenly those persistent problems are sorted.

  • Comment 28, posted at 18.06.14 07:43:13 by Bokhoring Reply

    BokhoringTeam captain
  • Burden cannot be given his first Bok cap while playing overseas. Morné has confirmed that on numerous occasions. It’s completely out of Meyer’s hands – it’s a SARU decision. Meyer rates Burden – go read the World XV match articles.

  • Comment 29, posted at 18.06.14 08:53:53 by vanmartin Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter Author
    vanmartinAssistant coach
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 28) : ja it’s a huge concern for me. Hope it can be changed soon as we will lose good players.

  • Comment 30, posted at 18.06.14 09:29:22 by JD Reply
    Competition Winner Author
    JDAssistant coach
  • @vanmartin (Comment 29) : it’s easy to say a player is good just to keep people happy and then still not pick him. Words is cheap!!!! Money buys the booze!!!!!

  • Comment 31, posted at 18.06.14 09:32:14 by JD Reply
    Competition Winner Author
    JDAssistant coach
  • @JD (Comment 31) : Meyer has selected him for a Springbok camp in 2012, unfortunately for Burden their were other players rightfully ahead of him in the Bok queue. That situation has now changed but how is Meyer supposed to select him if SARU won’t allow it? Keep in mind, it’s also easy to criticize a coach when a decision it out of his hands. If Meyer was simply saying those things to keep the public happy, why not give out similar compliments to Rory Kockott? That would have bought him way more public brownie points.

  • Comment 32, posted at 18.06.14 10:36:09 by vanmartin Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter Author
    vanmartinAssistant coach
  • @vanmartin (Comment 32) : point taken, but with Strauss and Du Plessis fit I don’t see any other hooker being a Bok.

  • Comment 33, posted at 18.06.14 21:20:57 by JD Reply
    Competition Winner Author
    JDAssistant coach

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