Off The Court: Sigi Burger talks confidence, Sam Bird, London Pulse and South Africa

Sigi Burger joined the latest episode of Sky Sports’ Off The Court and opened up about her blossoming confidence at London Pulse.

The international shooter is a much-loved character within the Vitality Netball Superleague. Since joining Surrey Storm ahead of the 2018 season she has invigorated everyone with her zest for life, and for netball.

When you dive a little deeper though, as Caroline Barker did during the new episode of Off The Court, Burger’s energy does conceal some doubts about her ability on court.

“I had to do a highlights reel of myself, so they told me I had to clip footage from matches where I played for South Africa and my three matches for Pulse,” Burger said.

“I first clipped the bits from Pulse because they’re more recent and then, I went back to clip South Africa’s footage and I looked at it and thought, ‘who is this girl?’

“When I play for South Africa, I have no confidence, you can see that I’m so stressed out on court. The way that I play for Pulse is so different to when I play internationally.

“I realised it’s because I have minimum confidence when I’ve been representing my country because I know that it’s a very different dynamic.”

After initially missing out on selection for last year’s Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool, and making plans for a summer playing in the HART Sapphire Series in Queensland, she found herself back in the SPAR Proteas’ squad.

Ine-Mari Venter sustained and injury during training and Burger stepped into the mix. After that, she was also part of the SPAR Proteas’ squad which hosted England for a three-Test series at the end of 2019.

On both occasions, Burger’s court time perhaps was not as considerable as she might have liked it to have been.

However, the start of the Vitality Netball Superleague saw the 24-year-old shooter fly at her new franchise. When the season was halted due to the global pandemic, she had best conversion rate to goal in the league with 124 goals from 127 shots.

“I didn’t see that I’d improved so much until I started clipping a few weeks ago,” she said.

It’s definitely [the influence of] Sam Bird who has been such a good coach. I’ve said this so many times, but she just has this way of working with players and she sees what we need and what type of encouragement.

Sigi Burger on her Superleague coach’s impact

“Sam pulled me in just before the season started and said, ‘you’re one of the more experienced players at Pulse, you have all of the experience and you really are good enough’.”

Bird’s words clearly had the impact she was hoping they would and with her support, Burger’s high-class performances followed.

“She said that she needed me to go out and be confident on court,” the shooter added. “If I was able to do that and dominate my position, then it would give others confidence and they would settle too.”

Alongside the arm that Bird has put around her, the 24-year-old has been working closely with Pulse’s S&C coach, Daniel Lavipour.

“I always rave about him. Before the season I couldn’t do a push-up and now I can do 15,” she said with a beaming smile.

“So, getting my S&C up to scratch, and Sam working with us and supporting the psychological side of the game, that’s really helped.”

Fancy Dress Friyay battle is really heating up. This week’s winner is Lindsay with Sigi runner up. Better bring your A game next week! #LockdownPulseUp #StayHomeSaveLives

The postponement of the Vitality Netball Superleague has done little to de-rail Pulse’s spirits. The franchise, who paused with an unbeaten record, are remaining as a tight-knit unit and are sticking together during these challenging times.

From Zoom training at the same time every day Monday to Saturday, which includes fancy dress Fridays, to welfare calls across the board, morale remains high.

“For the first 10 minutes on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Sam will be doing agility drills with us. They’re not as fun when you’re doing them on grass and instead of catching a ball during, you have to touch the ground or do a burpee! Dan then takes us afterwards and we do our S&C.

“On Tuesdays we run time trials, which I have realised, are my worst enemy!!

“It’s the day of the week when I wake up three hours before and need to put my game face on. We run 5km time trials, 3km and we did a mile time trial for our the most recent one… that was disgusting!

“The worst thing is that because we have some of the fittest and fastest girls, I’m thinking that I’ve run a great time and then I see that Kira (Rothwell) did it 40 seconds quicker than me!”

Despite rolling her eyes lovingly at Rothwell’s time, it’s clear that Burger and Pulse are a close group who are leaning on each other to navigate their way through these unchartered waters.

Using this time working on all things our amazing coach Sam wants us to improve on before we hit back on court again . Special thanks to @thackerj_ on being the target to hit ? thanks to @gilbertnetball #gilbertnetballsa #gifted #sparproteas

A post shared by Sigi (Sigrid) Burger (@sigiburger) on

Burger also has her boyfriend James, alongside his parents and brothers, with whom she’s staying with right now. As her own family are back in South Africa, like so many, she has embraced the art of the video call.

“My parents and my brother are missing me. I’m a very family-based person. It’s lovely to see them together but I do sometimes get jealous because they are isolating at our beach house which is on the seafront at the southernmost tip of Africa.

“So, they have the sunshine but England has been treating me well. We’ve been doing lots of fitness and I’ve got a few new men’s players now [with James and his brothers] who might be able to create a team!

“It took them a few days watching me shooting and now they’re shooting me out of the park! It’s been really good.”

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