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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 June 2006, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Burger undergoes neck operation
South African flanker Schalk Burger
Burger was the 2004 World Player of the Year
South Africa flanker Schalk Burger underwent a successful operation on a career-threatening neck injury in Cape Town on Saturday.

Burger had two vertebrae fused together after getting injured in the Springboks' second Test win over Scotland on 17 June.

"The fusion was completed and the bone block and titanium plate are well fixed," said a spokesman.

Burger will remain in an intensive care unit until Sunday.

He will then undergo rehabilitation over the next six to eight months.

"I don't want to jump to conclusions - but there is a chance he may never play again," Boks coach Jake White said after the initial diagnosis.

"I'm worried by the long-term effects. It could be career-threatening."

The Springboks' medical staff were unaware of the injury during Saturday's match as Burger, 23, continued playing and did not tell anyone.

You need three or four players to replace a guy like Schalk

Boks coach Jake White
He later complained of pain in his entire body and pins and needles down one side on the flight from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, where South Africa face France on Saturday.

His father, Schalk Burger senior, a former Springbok, said on Tuesday his son currently had no feeling in his ring finger or his little finger.

"It's a difficult operation because the cushion between the sixth and seventh vertebrae is gone," Burger Snr told Cape Talk radio station.

"Although the operation is difficult the fact that the injury is lower down his neck is good for a future prognosis of making a full recovery.

"The most important thing is for him is to recover and we hope that he will be able to play again."

Burger has played 27 Tests since his debut at the 2003 World Cup, and was named World Player of the Year in 2004.

South Africa 29-15 Scotland
17 Jun 06 |  Internationals
South Africa 36-16 Scotland
10 Jun 06 |  Internationals
Burger named player of the year
23 Nov 04 |  Rugby Union

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