JOHANNESBURG — On Saturday as I was walking through the crowd at Ellis Park ahead of the first Test against England, I spotted a large man in a white t-shirt getting off a bus with a group of fans. Nobody was giving him a second glance, but I recognised it was Schalk Brits. I remarked to my mate, a fellow sports journalist, that it was a pity Brits had retired from rugby as Rassie Erasmus could do with a man of his talent and experience now that the injured Malcolm Marx and Bismarck du Plessis were out of the picture for this series. Brits was at the game as a fan. Now he could be back in a Springbok jersey after being called up to the squad. 37 year old Brits has been a mainstay of English Premiership club Saracens for 10 years. He announced his (premature) retirement last year, and went out on a high after helping his team win the English Premiership final against Exeter at Twickenham just over two weeks ago. He had cited his age and a desire to study an MBA as reasons to quit the game. He said it was time to “have a beer and enjoy watching the game and not getting bashed up”. Brits has played 10 Tests for South Africa, starting 9 of them from the bench. The last time he wore the green and gold was in October 2015 in a World Cup match against the USA at London’s Olympic Stadium. He could well earn his 11th cap starting off the bench in the second Test against England in Bloemfontein on Saturday. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
The experienced hooker Schalk Brits has been added to the Springbok squad and joined the group in Bloemfontein, where they are preparing for the second Test against England, which takes place on Saturday.
“We are busy with building experience, continuity and capacity towards the Rugby World Cup, and it’s good for our young players to rub shoulders with experienced players such as Duane and Willie,” explained Erasmus.
“I want Schalk to perform a similar role, because he has extensive inside knowledge and plenty of experience from playing for Saracens in England. It’s a great way for our younger guys to learn the trade of international rugby from these guys.”
The Springbok team to face England in the second Test in Bloemfontein’s Toyota Stadium will be named on Thursday.