Burden set for French shift

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 16 Sep 2013 at 09:11
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The mystery regarding Sharks hooker Craig Burden’s disappearing act this weekend seems to be clearing up.

Burden was somewhat mysteriously omitted from the match 22 that traveled to Kimberley on Saturday, with Kyle Cooper handed the number 2 jersey and Monde Hadebe the 16. While anything is, of course, possible given the Sharks’ rotation policy, I’ll admit that I was surprised to find Burden’s name nowhere in sight for such a crucial encounter.

News out of Durban this weekend, though, is that the Sharks have given Burden their blessing in pursuing a move to French club Toulon. The Mediterranean giants have been desperately seeking a top hooker – with incumbent Sébastien Bruno no spring chicken at 39 years of age – and have recently failed to lure another Shark, in Bismarck du Plessis, to the club. According to both Jean Smyth of EWN and Craig Lewis of the Daily News, the 28-year-old Burden (who used to play at wing, you know) will head to the French South coast this week to join Toulon on a trial basis, ahead of a more permanent move if all goes well.

Burden, who spent a lot of time in the rather large shadows caused by du Plessis and current CEO Jonh Smit finally established himself as a Super Rugby regular when the latter moved to Saracens in 2011. Ironically, it was a spell with the Springboks as an uncapped tourist last year that allowed Kyle Cooper to usurp his position in Durban and to be fair, Burden has never quite recovered from that setback, with the younger and more physical coming through strongly to cement a position as du Plessis’ deputy in Super Rugby this year. While the pair have been rotated thus far in the Currie Cup, it’s quite clear that Cooper remains the first choice option.

Further complicating matters in the continued development of Hadebe and Franco Marais behind Burden – both are former Junior Springboks and have captained the Sharks at under 21 level. It look as though the Sharks, who clearly don’t consider Burden to be a part of the long-term plans any more, have kindly agreed to allow him to pursue the French dream and will look to Hadebe to play out the Currie Cup season in his stead.

Good luck, Bruce! Really hoping it all works out for you at Toulon, a great club whose running game you are sure to complement hugely.


  • Good luck to Craig. Sad to see him go as he was always one of my favourites when he came on, but can understand the motivation.

  • Comment 1, posted at 16.09.13 09:16:37 by Butchie34 Reply
  • I hope he manages to get a nice retirement package.

    Good luck Craig!

  • Comment 2, posted at 16.09.13 09:21:43 by Pokkel Reply
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  • He should never have moved from centre/wing.

  • Comment 3, posted at 16.09.13 09:27:15 by SheldonK Reply

  • This is absolutely heartbreaking! Wishing him all the best in Toulon though.

  • Comment 4, posted at 16.09.13 09:38:12 by SuperEtts Reply
  • Cheers Craig, your busting runs were breathtaking. Go kill them in France!

  • Comment 5, posted at 16.09.13 09:41:40 by PTAShark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • This is sad but not unexpected. Go well Bruce, you are a Sharks legend in my book.

  • Comment 6, posted at 16.09.13 09:42:28 by Son Of Mayhem Reply
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  • 😥 not the best way to start off monday.always will be one of my favourite players still have his profile from the match day programe in 2007 vs blues i think.

  • Comment 7, posted at 16.09.13 09:44:41 by Poisy Reply
  • Good luck to him. He could have played anywhere, from centre to wing to flank to hooker.

    Always gave it 100% for the team.

  • Comment 8, posted at 16.09.13 09:49:56 by StevieS Reply
  • Probably the best decision he could have made at this stage of his career to further his learning of the front row dark arts.

    In a competition that places a premium on the scrum and set piece, his pure hooking skills are bound to be improved immeasurably. Good luck Craig.

  • Comment 9, posted at 16.09.13 09:50:49 by John Galt Reply

    John Galt
  • I really hope he nails his trial and secures a spot at a big time French club.

  • Comment 10, posted at 16.09.13 10:10:38 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • Sad to see him go – he always brought a huge impact onto the field when he subbed and takled like a demon. Good luck in France!!

  • Comment 11, posted at 16.09.13 10:42:23 by Caratacus Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 3) : He was becoming too slow to be a provincial wing. The move to hooker extended his career by years. As I read somewhere he said rather a fast hooker than a slow wing. Had he not changed he wouldn’t have had a contract any longer at the Sharks and who knows if any other union would have signed him as a wing if he was being let go for being too slow??

  • Comment 12, posted at 16.09.13 10:52:09 by lostfish Reply
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  • @lostfish (Comment 12) : you read that here, when I interviewed him 🙂

  • Comment 13, posted at 16.09.13 11:39:32 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @lostfish (Comment 12) : Im not convinced by that to be honest. He had speed he just needed to work on it. Odwa isnt quick and we have kept him on our books. And his main position was centre but he was young so was brought in at wing. I get why he made the change but if I looked at the way he was as a centre he could have been a great 12 for the Sharks in the Trevor Healstead mould. We are too quick to bracket players as too slow or no vision etc. If he moved anywhere it should have been to flank. His core hooking basics are not good, and never have been. Yes the Sharks etc have a million flanks, but so too with hookers in KZN. But good luck to him in France.

  • Comment 14, posted at 16.09.13 11:39:48 by SheldonK Reply

  • Enjoy Toulon Mr. Burden! You will be missed!

  • Comment 15, posted at 16.09.13 11:43:07 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @robdylan (Comment 13) : I knew it was a good source 😉

  • Comment 16, posted at 16.09.13 14:23:00 by lostfish Reply
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  • @SheldonK (Comment 14) : I always feel that if he had really believed he could have been a better wing or centre then he would have gone to another province or somewhere else to ply his trade and told Muir to shove it At the end of the day the final decision lay with him. He may not be a Springbok quality hooker but he is a damn good hooker. He is solid, dependable and apart from the odd erratic lineout he always has a good game. He can’t be all that bad after all Toulon have offered him a shot.

  • Comment 17, posted at 16.09.13 14:27:50 by lostfish Reply
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  • @lostfish (Comment 17) : Yeh look i guess u right, they must have seen something they like or something they believe they can mould. Up north the primary functions of a hooker are very important though so he will need to work on that. I just honestly think he could have made a very useful centre.

  • Comment 18, posted at 16.09.13 15:34:32 by SheldonK Reply

  • Good luck Craig!!!!! You’re an great guy and will be missed!!!

  • Comment 19, posted at 16.09.13 17:08:18 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • A very sad day – I must say. He has been a fantastic servant to the Sharks and I wish him well. he will be sorely missed! Good luck Craig!

  • Comment 20, posted at 16.09.13 23:07:02 by [email protected] Reply


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