Craig Burden: the ultimate team man?

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 5 Apr 2012 at 10:46
Tagged with : , , , , , ,

As many of you will know, I famously (or is that infamously?) ran into Rudolf Straeuli in London last year. We had a pretty good chat about a number of things over a beer – and one of the things he asked me in particular has stuck in my head.

Rudolf asked me who I considered the epitome of a Sharks player; at the time, my answer was Jacques Botes, because to me, he is the sort of head-down grafter that typifies my own feelings about the team – a player who has been a stalwart over so many seasons I’ve lost count, who goes about his business with ruthless effectiveness, yet never seems to put himself forward when the plaudits are being handed out. Botes – hard-working, humble, dependable – that’s the guy I chose. I’m starting to worry, though, that I may have overlooked someone even more deserving of the title.

Craig Bruce Burden will earn his 29th Super Rugby cap for the Sharks tomorrow, pretty slim pickings for a player who turns 27 in May. Many would be surprised to discover, though, that in starting at hooker against the Hurricanes, Burden will win only his second starting cap at hooker in Super Rugby – the only other time that Burden was picked to start in the number two jersey was against the Crusaders four full seasons ago. Add to that a single cap at right wing against the Waratahs in 2006 (before Burden made “the change”) and one start to get a picture of a player whose entire career to date has been spent on the bench, or on the fringes.

When Dick Muir convinced Burden to move away from the three quarters and concentrate on hooker instead, hindsight tells us that in so doing, he took a very promising young centre-cum-wing and inadvertently cast him as a seemingly unwanted extra in one of the more interesting soap operas to play out in South African rugby over the last few years – namely the ongoing saga of John Smit v Bismarck du Plessis. We will never know (because Bruce is too much of a gent to ever say so) how frustrating it must have been watching a succession of bog-standard centres (and occasionally also wings) rack up the caps, while Burden was forced to wait in the shadow of not one, but two of the best hookers the world has seen over the last 5 years.

The burning question, of course, is why Burden didn’t leave. We know that he had a very good offer to join the Lions and there has apparently been some overseas interest as well, based on the good play Burden has delivered during the last few Currie Cup campaigns. The reason that he’s stuck around, though, is the same reason I’ve started to doubt selecting Botes above him – Craig Burden is the one guy in that squad who, I believe, feels as passionately about the Sharks team as we fans do.

We are really quick to throw around accusations of players lacking heart and passion for the jersey (all of which is bullshit, by the by, but the comments persist) but if there’s one guy in that squad to whom that simply cannot apply, it’s Craig Burden. His loyalty and commitment to the side, despite the way he’s often been treated, is simply exemplary – the consummate team man and home-grown hero.

My most fervent wish is that the team he loves so much (perhaps too much) would start to treat him better.


  • Brilliant read Rob..

    Thank you!

    And all the best Burden, kick some Hurricane ass tomorrow!

  • Comment 1, posted at 05.04.12 10:53:49 by Richard Ferguson Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
    Richard Ferguson
  • Agreed, i wrote this in 2010… Burden has been really patient and it’s time he got rewarded for it…

  • Comment 2, posted at 05.04.12 10:55:28 by The Quirk Reply
    The Quirk
  • Hear, hear Rob! I’ve been saying for ages now he won’t fail us if he’s given a chance. I hope he has a stormer tomorrow and gets more starts and more game time this season.

  • Comment 3, posted at 05.04.12 10:55:49 by StevieS Reply
  • Great read Rob. I really hope he has a blinder tomorrow so that Plum can have more confidence in him and give him 20 or 30 minutes a game. Bissie also needs to be managed.

  • Comment 4, posted at 05.04.12 11:05:23 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • @Pokkel (Comment 4) : That’s what I’m hoping for as well. He’ll be a real impact player.

  • Comment 5, posted at 05.04.12 11:13:12 by StevieS Reply
  • Craig Burden is a player that many a national team would give their eyeteeth for. The Sharks’ treatment of him has been unconscionable.

  • Comment 6, posted at 05.04.12 11:15:17 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • 😈 Go Graig! Hope you have a blinder and some space to run the ball. I can just trust that he is not too rusted. 😈

  • Comment 7, posted at 05.04.12 11:16:42 by KILLER SHARK Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter
  • @The Quirk (Comment 2) : Nice read 😀

  • Comment 8, posted at 05.04.12 11:19:26 by StevieS Reply
  • @Culling Song (Comment 6) : It’s the Sharks way.

  • Comment 9, posted at 05.04.12 11:21:06 by rhineshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Spirit of Rugby
  • @Culling Song (Comment 6) : I like that word

  • Comment 10, posted at 05.04.12 11:24:34 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @StevieS (Comment 8) : Thanks!

  • Comment 11, posted at 05.04.12 11:31:06 by The Quirk Reply
    The Quirk
  • Damn, I hope he nails it one time!!! Nice read Roberto!

  • Comment 12, posted at 05.04.12 11:32:07 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • Good article Rob.

    All the best to Graig hope he has a blinder. From here on really do hope he gets more game time. Can’t have Bissie starting every game, this is a long, long tourney. Need to manage our players better. Graig is definitely capable and a good replacement for tomorrow.

  • Comment 13, posted at 05.04.12 11:32:22 by Puma Reply

  • @Puma (Comment 13) : @KILLER SHARK (Comment 7) : question for both of you… why “Graig” with a G?

  • Comment 14, posted at 05.04.12 11:34:17 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Awesome read Rob…
    All the best Craig…

  • Comment 15, posted at 05.04.12 11:40:21 by Franshark Reply
  • @Franshark (Comment 15) : thanks

  • Comment 16, posted at 05.04.12 11:42:53 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 14) OOPS! 😳 Just a typo Rob. I know it is with a ‘C’ just never check my posts before submitting.

  • Comment 17, posted at 05.04.12 11:43:33 by Puma Reply

  • @Puma (Comment 17) : no worries 🙂

  • Comment 18, posted at 05.04.12 11:53:21 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Jeez At Last…. 🙄

    Nice read Rob. I hope he goes out there and kicks some ass. (well not the sort that you get a yellow card for)

  • Comment 19, posted at 05.04.12 11:53:28 by Farlington Reply

  • Love Burden such an awesome player glad to see he’s starting! Hopefully his patience and loyalty pay off in the end. This situation needs to be managed better, bizzie needs more rest so he is more effective and not played into the ground whilst Craig needs more game time so he can perform when he gets da opportunity. Come on Plum player mgmt was poor last season and we Paid for it, lets not have a repeat… But in saying that good call with burden

  • Comment 20, posted at 05.04.12 20:35:59 by RuckingFun Reply


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