Improving game by game: Sharksworld chats to Craig Burden

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks on 23 Jul 2010 at 07:30
Tagged with : , , , ,

It’s been well over two years since the last time we spoke to Sharks hooker Craig Burden. After a frankly superb performance against the Blue Bulls last weekend, Sharksworld caught up with the dynamic hooker for a bit of a catch-up.

“I’m glad we got our campaign back on track,” says Burden of the game last weekend, “after the unfortunate stumble in the first game. Everyone lifted their performances, knowing how important it is to bank all the points we can get at home. The fact that a number of important players are out at the moment meant that others had to front up – and they did that this weekend.” Asked what went wrong against Griquas, Burden reckons “to be honest with you, I think we did underestimate them a little. Once we’d set up our ball, we gave them the opportunity to counter-ruck us; unfortunately we didn’t front up as we should have and that played in their favour. They turned over quite a bit of our ball at the point of breakdown. I think we fixed that against the Bulls, but it’s just unfortunate that we let the game slip out of our hands against Griquas.”

We chatted about Craig’s own game against the old foe and he reckons that scoring any more tries (he was awarded one, but had at least two others ruled out by the TMO) would have been a bonus. “We were helluva happy with our set pieces against the Bulls – I think the scrums went a lot better. All of the forwards played well and we did what we needed to do. It would have been nice if more of the calls had gone my way, but that’s not really the most important thing. As a hooker, especially if you’ve come from the wing, you want to be judged on your performances in the set pieces, not on the number of tries you score.”

Looking to the Pumas, Burden reckons “we’ve watched the Pumas against the Bulls and we know they’re a decent side, with a strong pack and solid set pieces. It’s a home game for us, so we know we’ve got to try and get as many points as we can. There are no easy games, but we’ve got no injuries after last week and feel like we’ve got some momentum – the okes are on a high! Against a side like the Pumas, you don’t want to let them in. You’ve got to get some points on the board early, dominate them and have the game in your hands the whole way.” By my reckoning, all of that translates into a very clear message to the Pumas – watch out!

Burden admitted the earlier part of the season was frustrating. “I felt the Currie Cup went well for me last year – I got quite a lot of game time, but then this year, while going on the Super 14 tour was a great experience and is always a nice thing to do, it probably didn’t do my development the world of good. Being there for five weeks, training five days a week and then getting no more than 3 or 4 minutes of game time was pretty frustrating. Even though I learned a huge amount from John and Bismarck at practice, at the end of the day you can only improve your own game and lift you own bar between the white lines on the field. I think I took a few steps back.” Craig agrees that his time might have been better spent playing regularly for the Vodacom Cup team . “Absolutely,” he says, “any game time is better than no game time. It was quite frustrating, but I knew that the Currie Cup was coming up and it would be a big opportunity for me to show that I’m ready to step up and compete at higher levels.”

We shared a chuckle about his few minutes spent back on the wing as a replacement against the Brumbies. “The backline’s in my past, though and I have no interested in going back there. I’m completely focused on playing hooker.” I pressed Craig on whether he hadn’t considered a move back, perhaps into midfield, given that the Sharks are short of genuine line breakers in the backs, but he dismissed the suggestion, saying “that’s something I’ve got to work at. I want to be getting recognition for the good things I’m doing as a tight forward – for the strong set-piece work – rather than for the odd line break which is a relic of my backline past.” No doubt, then, that Craig Burden is a hooker and first, foremost and exclusively.

The good news for Sharks fans is that Craig Burden is a committed Shark – “it’s the team I’ve been passionate about my whole life,” he says and although there was the option to move to the Lions to get more exposure earlier in the year, he’s definitely staying put in Durban right now and fighting as hard as he can to retain the black and white number 2 jersey. With two Boks ahead of him and the precocious Kyle Cooper banging on the door as well, there’s a huge amount of competition in the squad. “That just drives you to train harder to prove that you deserve a shot. You need to put in big performances to prove your worth, but if you’re not getting a chance to play, then it’s very hard to do that. That was the problem for me at the beginning of the year. But it’s great having strong competition for every position in the squad. You never want to be in the position that you’re wearing the jersey just because there’s nobody else to play!”

I’d like to thank Craig for giving up his time to keep us in the loop and wish him all the best for the season, as well as his ongoing Engineering studies, which he concedes occasionally have to take a back-seat to his rugby career.


  • All the best Craig!

    I have always liked the way he plays. Whenever I watch the Sharks live, there are 2 players who I note tv does not do any justice to: Botes’ kamikaze-style of flying into rucks, and Burden’s aggresive work at the ruck.

    Keep on guving it your best; I believe the hard work is about to pay off.

  • Comment 1, posted at 23.07.10 08:03:26 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • Im happy that he didn’t move to the Lions, and Im sure he is pretty relieved as well!!

    Dick must know something about him if he tried to sign him!

  • Comment 2, posted at 23.07.10 08:03:26 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • glad he stayed. Honest hard working player. And the fastest hooker in SA!

  • Comment 3, posted at 23.07.10 08:11:34 by PTAShark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • I like this boytjie. The opposite of Smit – fast, fit and doesn’t need a GPS to find his jumpers.

  • Comment 4, posted at 23.07.10 09:01:04 by rhineshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Spirit of Rugby
  • Smit struggles to find his jumpers ❓

  • Comment 5, posted at 23.07.10 09:16:25 by Clayton(PJLD) Reply
  • @rhineshark (Comment 4) : πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

  • Comment 6, posted at 23.07.10 09:22:37 by Mole Reply

  • @Clayton(PJLD) (Comment 5) : You been watching Smit’s throwing of late ❓

  • Comment 7, posted at 23.07.10 09:35:36 by rhineshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Spirit of Rugby
  • @rhineshark (Comment 4) : Smit looks very wide of late (maybe he has some sort of competiton/bet going on with Ricky). πŸ™„

  • Comment 8, posted at 23.07.10 09:48:04 by rekinek (Go Klose!) Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition Winner Author
  • @rekinek (Go Klose!) (Comment 8) : πŸ˜†

    He looks very unfit and out of condition. At the very first lineout in Wellington he sounded like the “before” guy in an Anti-Histamine ad.

  • Comment 9, posted at 23.07.10 10:49:03 by rhineshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Spirit of Rugby
  • I like Craig Burden, with him and The Bismarck and Kyle Cooper we have depth a plenty… John Smit on any other day would battle to find a place in this team were it not for his reputed leadership and command… Looking forward to post 2011… Come on Craigie you legend, like this guy, like his attitude and his team ethos, he is an asset..

  • Comment 10, posted at 23.07.10 12:51:42 by DarkDestroyer Reply

  • And once again I am chuffed to learn that he put in a strong performance, Craig is in a good place mentally and physically and is playing some top rugby… I just hope that when the Boks are forced to play that we combine well with the settled combinations, I am not looking forward to a repeat from last year… And I have to feel for guys like Craig and Kyle Cooper as both Smit and Bismarck will be playing… I think the Currie Cup should be a non-Bok competition full stop. It is a brave decision, but a good decision… Tier 3: Vodacom Cup, Tier 2: Currie Cup, Tier 1: Super Rugby.

    Obviously injured Boks making a comeback is very different from Test match Boks returning from other campaigns… They are not in synch with the current synergy and dynamics of the Currie Cup squad and I believe they add no value to the team in the late stages of the competition – as it just messes up the chemistry built up before their arrival.

    I understand that SARU wants the players fit and ready before the money making EOYT, but they need to have a high performance camp set up where the Bok squad get conditioned and trained within their own dynamic, and those Currie Cup players that had a stellar season can then be invited to the camp to see how they gel… Within the camp you can then have various training formats such as 20 min trials / chukkas with the squad and or have Invitational XV’s playing against Bok Squad XV’s…

    Then next point is Super Rugby, I am not impressed to learn that negotiations are already under way for 2013 Super 16… SANZAR should / could select 20 teams from the three regions as Super Rugby candidates and the lowest placed team of that region can then be relegated… Thus you have promotion and relegation, then to add a dynamic; the relegated teams can form Division 2 to stay sharp and play for promotion into the next seasons Premier Division… These should not be ideals alone, this should be the format and someone with clout and common sense and strong negotiation tactics should then propose this to SANZAR – fans do not want to see 16 teams play week in week out only to know that of those 16 teams 12 (HELLO) are challengers with 4-5 of those contenders for the number one spot…

    Western Force, Lions, Cheetahs and more recently Waikato Chiefs are not up to Super Rugby standards and should not be included in this format… Then add the Melbourne Rebels and The Southern Kings into the mix and you already have division 2 – more teams is not the solution… Money should not be the driving force behind everything… Melbourne Rebels are a marquee team, purchasing over the hill talent from all over the place, why not have THE SUPER Rebels and combine the lower performing teams already in the Super series to form a serious squad of southern hemisphere talent who will all be eligible for National honours based on their strong performances under the guidance of Bob Dwyer and Alan Solomons etc… These are good suggestions if I don’t say so myself… Please, lets turn this into a debate… Cheers… πŸ’‘

  • Comment 11, posted at 24.07.10 08:34:41 by DarkDestroyer Reply

  • Bruce Buuuurden you gorilla f#%k keep it up my man

  • Comment 12, posted at 24.07.10 08:42:36 by zvision10 Reply


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