The incredible Schalk, the 2011 SA Rugby Player of the Year, who missed all of 2012 with a knee injury will be out of rugby for the rest of 2013 as well.
Burger went under the knife to reduce pressure on a nerve that was influencing the performance of his calf muscle (which, it was discovered, was connected to a cyst in his back) and that is when he contracted bacterial meningitis.
Since then, Burger has been through some tough times – which saw him spend a total of six weeks in hospital and another eight weeks indoors. However, the popular Western Province, Stormers and Springbok star was in good spirits when addressing the media in Cape Town on Monday afternoon.
“Obviously there has been a lot of speculation, but basically what happened was I started training with the DHL Stormers at the beginning of this year and I felt reasonably good,” said Burger at DHL Newlands.
“After a while, after about 40 minutes of training or so, probably the equivalent of about 3km of running, I felt some spasticity in my left calf and when that happened I started to pull up because I was scared that I would tear or pull my calf muscle.
“Eventually I went for a back scan and it showed up that I had a cyst in my back right next to my spinal chord. I went in for an operation to relieve the pressure by draining the cyst, and unfortunately I picked up a hospital bug which led to bacterial meningitis.
“There was a critical stage for about four, nearly five days in which there was a lot of uncertainty. Obviously through that period I was in isolation and I was seriously ill… in fact, so ill that some people around me thought, ‘This is it’.
“Luckily I got through that and also draining the cyst wasn’t good enough, so they had to come up with a new gameplan and that was actually removing the cyst.”
Meanwhile, when asked about Burger’s future in Cape Town, WP Rugby CEO Rob Wagner said: “Schalk Burger is a very special son of Western Province rugby. He has been here for longer than he can remember I think, going back to Under-13 rugby.
“He has been a model professional rugby player, someone who has made it quite clear where his loyalties lie, and certainly is hugely appreciated by Western Province Rugby,” added Wagner.
“This has always been an issue that Schalk needed to put across to the public through the media (himself). We respect his position and we have respected a very long period of recovery going right back to February 25, 2012.
“He has a contract until the end of 2014. Both Western Province Rugby and Schalk would like to see him go through until the end of that contract.”