Vodacom Western Province flanker Schalk Burger is preparing for a tough Absa Currie Cup encounter against the Natal Sharks at Newlands on Saturday and said the returning Springboks are raring to go.
A home semi-final is at stake and the Springbok said WP cannot afford to lose this one. He is one of four contracted Springboks who return to the side after a period of strength and conditioning training.
Burger said he doesn't believe it would take him, scrumhalf Ricky Januarie, centre Jaque Fourie and wing Bryan Habana too long to find their feet.
"Obviously if you haven't played for a while you might be a bit rusty. We haven't played rugby for over a month now, but we're looking forward to it.
"Obviously it's a big game for us and it's quite important for us to win if we want a home semi. It's great to be back playing rugby, we'll probably be a bit rusty here and there, but I'm sure we'll get back into the swing of things pretty quickly."
Burger elaborated: "I'm not the best trainer in the world. I'm much better when I'm playing rugby than when I'm stuck in the gym.
"All the boys are very keen to get back, and it's the same with the Sharks Boks coming back, they'll be raring to go."
He said now was a good time to turn the tables on the Sharks, as they have had the upper hand over Province lately. "We don't have a good record against them the last 4 or 5 years.
"They've had better results than us and now is a good time to turn that around. Obviously it's pretty important to match them up front physically because they've got a strong pack and strong set phase as well.
"So from a forwards perspective we've got to match that and obviously all-round physicality, especially at the breakdown because they've been pretty sharp in those areas. We've worked on that and had a chat about it and hopefully we can turn that around."
Burger said a win was important, because it is much easier playing a home semi-final. We did that in the Super 14 and we'd like to do that again in the Currie Cup.
"We really want this win, but if we lose it, it's not the end of the world. You just make your job so much tougher. We'll probably have to go play in Durban, which makes it tough with back to back weekends against the Sharks.
"We know it won't be easy but we've prepared well and hopefully we can play some good rugby this weekend."
Burger said although it's been a long season the players don't need to be reminded about the importance of this game. "We've been in the top two in both competitions right through the season.
"We were in a similar situation in the Super 14 having to win our last pool match to secure a home semi. We know the importance of this game and there's a lot of excitement with the Boks back and the Sharks bringing down a strong side.
"It's going to be a tough one for us but hopefully we can pull it through. It will be great to play a semi in Cape Town in a week's time."
Burger said he was really looking forward to getting back onto the field especially because it's such a big occasion - playing for a home semifinal at Newlands.
"It is very important for the union. During the Super 14 and Currie Cup we've been in the top two, and last week we put ourselves under a bit of pressure, so it's basically a must win.
"We're looking forward to the game but it's very important that we get a home semifinal."
Teams for Newlands:
Vodacom WP: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Jean de Villiers, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Anton van Zyl (c), 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 JD Moller.
Substitutes: 16 Hanyani Shimange, 17 JC Kritzinger, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Conrad Jantjes.
Natal Sharks: 15 Pat Lambie, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche (c), 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Andre Pretorius, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Gerhard Mostert, 3 Jannie Du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis,1 Beast Mtawarira.
Substitutes: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Eugene van Staden, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Adi Jacobs, 22 Louis Ludik.