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Sigi Burger

Image: Ben Lumley

Sigi Burger might have finally found her Netball Super League home.

The South African is a name well-known to fans, having arrived at Surrey Storm in 2018 before stints at London Pulse and Leeds Rhinos followed.

But the shooter revealed she has never been happier than she is now at Severn Stars thanks to the culture created at the franchise.

And the good vibes off the court have reaped rewards on it, with Burger’s goals helping propel Jo Trip’s unfancied side up the table this season.

“It has been so amazing,” said Burger, who currently tops the NSL scoring charts with 475 goals.

“The beauty of Stars is that we came in and had no expectation put on us from above.

“We played [Saracens] Mavericks in the Season Opener, and I was so nervous. Our general manager came to us and said: ‘I don’t expect you guys to win, I just want you to have fun and play good netball.’

“It was amazing not having that pressure and also being able to prove people wrong. It has been so fun.

“We all want to perform; we all want to do well. It looks like a family from the outside that’s because it is, we all enjoy each other’s company and training together.

“Everyone has doubted us, that’s fine, this is our underdog year. I am so excited. Our goal is to win 50% of our matches this season, but more importantly growing from game to game.”

With a novice head coach and a squad built from scratch late in the signing window, many might have expected Stars to prop up the table this season.

But Trip’s side have been standout performers this term, winning six of their opening 12 matches; already double their total from the entirety of last season.

And Burger admitted that while Stars won’t be changing what they do, expectations are now slightly different from the completely pressure-free outlook at the start of the season.

“We are at team to be reckoned with so now the pressure is on,” she added.

“People are expecting us to put out good performances. We are still going in with a focus on ourselves; what we do well, we will do super well.

“We don’t underestimate anyone; we still give everybody so much respect.”

Sigi Burger

Image: Ben Lumley

Key to Stars’ form this season is Burger’s form in the circle, with the shooter a consistently strong target for feeds before converting at a rate of over 95%.

It has not always been such plain sailing for the South African, however, having lost her form in front of goal for much of the previous two seasons.

But Burger is now back to her best, and points to the inclusive culture fostered in Worcester as the reason why.

“I couldn’t shoot for the past few years, I got this mental block,” revealed Burger. “The thing I could always do the best growing up was shoot. You gave me a ball I’d put it in no stress.

“Then to go through a stage where I couldn’t put a shot off because I was too scared to shoot, it’s like having your super strength taken away.

“I would put a shot up and it felt like there was nothing at the end of my hand. The ball felt like a feather. I couldn’t spin the ball because it felt like my hand was paralysed.

“Jo just said ‘turn to post, put it up, you’ve got this, if you miss it’s not the end of the world’.

“The confidence she instils in us, because she is so brutally honest. She will never put us down, and we want to do well for her because of the amount of passion, commitment and dedication she puts in. It’s so inspiring and she is also such a good player to back it all up.

“To have got that confidence back, I always knew I had it in me and it was coming back a bit last season but now it is fully back. I am Sigi again, I am my own personality again.”

Success with Stars is part of an exciting year for Burger, with the Netball World Cup to be hosted in her hometown of Cape Town this summer.

Burger has not represented the SPAR Proteas since before last year’s Commonwealth Games, and while she is still unclear whether another call will come, she is excited about for the eyes of the netball world to descend on South Africa.

She said: “It’s about time that an African country hosted it. To have this spotlight on netball, I think it is really going to grow our sport and open it up to more people; Africa has so much untapped potential.

“There is a lot of pressure on Netball South Africa because the last World Cup in Liverpool did an amazing job at hosting, it was one of the most professional events I have ever been to.

“South Africa is the most beautiful country you will ever visit, so it is very exciting to get people to the motherland; the people are friendly, the food is amazing, the views are unreal.

“Playing for your country is always such a dream and the pride when you put that dress on, singing your national anthem, I cry every time.

“I have a motto of be so good they can’t ignore you, and that is the motto I am working with his year.”

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