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Saracens flanker Jacques Burger reinvigorated after making long-awaited return from injury for Bedford Blues
"I just want to pull the Saracens jersey over my head again."
It's been a long road for Jacques Burger since he aggravated a knee injury against Northampton Saints in February 2011.
An injury that was initially expected to keep him out for eight weeks turned into a two-year battle with pain, surgery and serious doubts that he'd ever play rugby again.
This week though suggested there may be light at the end of the tunnel.
The Namibian flanker played 40 minutes for Bedford Blues on Wednesday night in what was his first action in 14 months and, although not perfect, Burger was pleased with the outcome.
"It was fine," he said. "Obviously I still felt a bit rusty and there will be some pain and some discomfort for a while.
"It's just a matter of getting used to certain movements and there's no movement like actually playing games so it's good to play and put myself in awkward positions to test the knee.
"However much training you do you can't prepare yourself for a real game so it feels good - I'm excited to get through this first step and I'm just excited now to start playing again for Saracens."
The Blues beat the British Army 43-29 in a frantic game that would have stretched Burger's aching body to the full.
But the 29-year-old insists that while he is not yet at his dynamic, enterprising and fearless best, his fitness was good. "It was a quick game and I felt fine really, I felt really good," he said.
"I was tired but not more tired than I would be in any other game I'd played so I felt really good.
"I'm hoping I can work on my fitness - obviously playing is a lot different to just being on the bike or whatever - and I definitely need to sharpen up in certain areas.
"The coaches are really happy, we talked today [Thursday] and they're happy with the progress I've made so I'm excited."
Burger has been in full training with the Sarries squad for nearly two weeks now.
He has been diligently fine-tuning his technical skills - tackling, rucking, handling - with a view to playing another reserve game in a fortnight's time.
He wears a "sat-nav type thing" and a heart-rate monitor while he trains and the medical staff are constantly evaluating his knee in case it gets "sore and puffy".
It's a slow process, and the Saracens Player of the Year in the Premiership winning side of 2010/2011 admits there are no guarantees regarding his place in the team now.
When then does Burger think he'll be back in the side?
"It's tough to say. The problem at this stage of the season is it's not easy to just jump in the team," he said.
"The boys are playing so well and the guys under me, and the guys above me actually too, are playing so well - they don't really need anyone to come through which is a good thing for the team.
"If in a couple of weeks I get through that game, which will be a higher level of rugby, then you never know.
He added: "But I'm still not playing how I was, I can't expect to be at that level in my first game back even though I'd love to be. It'll take a while.
"I think the big aim now is to get 100 per cent fit and be firing form wise for the start of next season."
Burger admits there were days when he doubted whether he'd ever run out on a rugby pitch again.
Despite being in agony whenever he ran, Burger played in the 2011 World Cup in South Africa which he admits almost certainly made his knee worse.
The back row captained Namibia, made 64 tackles in four matches and was named in the tournament's official top five players.
Burger says he doesn't regret a thing.
"It's incredible to represent your country at a World Cup, it's something I decided to do and it's something you always remember when you finish rugby," he said.
"It's really important to me, I love Namibia, I love playing for my country.
"I don't get paid playing for my country - I do it because I'm a Namibian and because I want to play for my country whenever I get the chance."
You get the feeling Burger isn't happy unless he's on a rugby field, running headfirst into a ruck or hauling down an opposition fly-half.
After just 40 minutes of action in front of 779 people at Goldington Road he already feels reinvigorated.
"It has been tough, it has been a long road, I'm not going to sit here and say it was easy," the 6ft2 forward said.
"There were days when you struggle, there are days when you have to pick yourself up and you really don't know if you'll ever get back.
"But luckily it all disappears really fast and after the Bedford Blues match I already feel like a different person - I'm really, really excited - it feels like I'm actually back playing again."
It's the sort of guts that Saracens hold in high esteem and it was pertinent that director of rugby Mark McCall referred directly to Burger's "spirit" when explaining a two-year extension to his contract last month.
The club demonstrated their trust in Burger by offering him a "straight-up deal" - without any clauses or stipulations regarding fitness or playing time.
It gave Burger the security to know he didn't have to push himself back too soon or play through the pain as has been so damaging in the past.
"I think there are a lot of people at other clubs in the same situation who are losing their contracts so I feel blessed in the sense that the club believe in me as a rugby player.
"They look after me and respect me and what I've done for the club and I respect the club massively too.
"Since I've been at Saracens for three and a bit years now it's been incredible, I've really loved my time here.
"I think rugby wise the way I play fits the way the team plays perfectly so I'm lucky to be able to play my natural game here and get recognition for that.
"I don't want to be a guy just dipping in here and there; I want to be a regular starter. That'll be my aim."