Schalk Brits to feature for Boks at Newlands

2018-06-19 06:58
Schalk Brits (Gallo)

Cape Town - Schalk Brits is in line to play some part in the third Test between South Africa and England at Newlands on Saturday.

The 37-year-old hooker was a surprise call-up to Rassie Erasmus' squad after the first Test in Johannesburg when the Boks staged a phenomenal comeback to win 42-39. 

The decision stemmed from an injury to Bismarck du Plessis, who was due to be part of the Bok squad in this series and for the first time since the 2015 Rugby World Cup. 

Brits, like Du Plessis, has not played for South Africa since that tournament and actually announced his retirement from the game at the end of this year's European domestic season.

But, not two weeks after playing his final game for Saracens, Brits was back in the Bok mix at the request of Erasmus. 

Now, he is set to earn his 11th Test cap in an international career that has spanned 10 years. 

"Yes, he will come into the reckoning for this game," Erasmus said at his press conference in Cape Town on Monday.

"It depends whether he starts or comes from the bench. We've seen before at previous World Cups in the key positions, when two or three guys can go down with injuries, you want to be sure that you have those reserves.

"You look at New Zealand in 2011 and the way they played with five different flyhalves ... Schalk is one of those guys who we would like to test."

When asked if he felt that Brits had enough in the tank to play a part at next year's World Cup in Japan, Erasmus was confident.

"Obviously the plan was for him to retire. I think after this weekend we'll have good sit-down and see where we are in terms of depth and experience," Erasmus explained.

"With Chiliboy (Ralepelle), Bongi (Mbonambi), Malcolm (Marx) and Akker (Van der Merwe) there, that's four solid hookers.

"We wanted to have a look at Bismarck, but the timing didn't work out.

"I really think Schalk is the kind of guy that can play until he's 38. I think playing one more season would not be impossible."

Erasmus did concede that if Brits was going to feature in 2019 he would have to come out of retirement and play rugby somewhere - either in South Africa or abroad. 

If he does play this weekend, Brits would take the place of either Mbonambi, who has started the last two Tests, or Van der Merwe. 

It will be one of a number of changes the Boks make for Newlands.

"We are going to make a few changes, not just because we've already won the series," Erasmus said.

"The weather conditions will play a role and some guys will probably fit in better ... the whole week looks like it's going to be wet.

"But also, we want to try a few things and put some guys under pressure ... I wouldn't say wholesale changes but there will be four or five changes."

Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:05.


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