Sportal.co.nz 11.Jan.2014Getty Images
Burger has been out of the game for 18 months, initially with a knee injury but then with a serious issue when a cyst was detected on his spinal cord. In an initial operation to drain the cyst he suffered an infection which spread into his spinal cord which caused a form of meningitis and he went through a critical period over four or five days.
"It could have gone either way, I was battling for my life. From being perfectly healthy, four days later I was on my death bed," he told the IRB's Total Rugby podcast.
"I managed to pull through that one and obviously my wife and my Dad, they are the ones who should tell the story because they say I normally just brush it off like nothing happened.
"It was a scary reality check," he said.
Burger said his first concern was for his family and rugby wasn't an issue at that stage.
"Once I got through that I got better quite quickly and I managed to get myself back onto the rugby field in a couple of months."
Burger said whereas rugby had been at the core of his thinking and planning in the past, he had a different perspective now although he had always enjoyed his rugby he now realised how it could be taken away from you in a heartbeat.
While the peripheral issues around rugby, before his injury, were becoming tiresome, especially the public exposure, the enforced break from the game had only heightened his desire to get back amongst the action.
He said his main issue would be competing against himself.
"I know that if I am playing at the best of my abilities, there's no reason why I can't make a really good contribution to the Springboks and it is also going to be quite tough because people are going to keep comparing with before my 18-month layoff. It's a big challenge and I know there's a lot of hard work ahead.
"I'm a bit short on game time but I will make up for that with a bit of enthusiasm and passion," he said.