By Ali Stokes
Saracens hooker Schalk Brits may be about to cancel his plans of retirement this summer after the news that the 37-year-old had been told by Springbok Head Coach Rassie Erasmus that he will be in South Africa’s 2019 Rugby World Cup plans if he finds a new club.
Having spent nine years in England after making his name in Super Rugby with the Stormers, Brits has become one of the Premiership’s biggest names, with many fans clamouring for an encore following what was destined to be his final hurrah during the Premiership final this season.
Brits is set to make a Test return this weekend from the bench for South Africa in his old stomping grounds, Newlands Stadium in Cape Town.
Criminally, Brits has a mere 10 Springbok caps to his name, having made his Test debut against Italy in 2008, last appearing in the Green and Gold against America during the 2015 Rugby World Cup. With all-time greats John Smit and Bismark du Plessis blocking the way, Brits has struggled to break into the national set-up.
Brits all-court, running, offloading and stepping game could prove to be a valuable asset for the Springboks in Cape Town this weekend, offering genuine pace and threat against a likely weary opposition.
England coach Eddie Jones however feels confident his side have the players to counter the threat of Brits.
“He’s a wonderful player,” said Jones of Brits. “I remember watching him play Super Rugby for the Stormers – my old team!
“I also remember bringing Saracens down here (to Cape Town) and playing the Stormers, and he was playing for the Stormers. I think that might have been one of his last games before he moved to England.
“He’s been a real stand-out player for Saracens over six or seven seasons. He’s got energy, he’s got that smile on his face and he’ll bring something different off the bench for them.
“We’ve got to be good enough to cope with that, but we’ve got a good bloke coming off the bench too; Luke Cowan-Dickie. He’s impressed us greatly on tour, so it will be the young against the old.”
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